True Christian Religion #433

/ 853  

433. XI. Charitable recreations are lunches, dinners and parties.

It is well known that lunches and dinners are customary everywhere, and that they are given for various purposes; in many cases for the sake of friendship, on account of relationship or celebrations, to gain an advantage or to reward services. They are also a means of gaining favour corruptly, in the case of important people, to do them honour, in kings' courts for show. But charitable lunches and dinners are to be found only with those who in mutual love share a like belief. In the earliest Christian church there were lunches and dinners, called feasts, for precisely this reason, set up to give hearty pleasure and at the same time bring people together. Dinners in their times meant social gatherings and getting together at the first stage in the establishment of the church, that being the meaning of the evening, when they took place. Lunches had the same meaning at the second stage when the church was established, since that is the meaning of morning and day.

[2] At table various matters were discussed, both domestic and political, but the chief subject was matters of concern to the church. Because they were charitable feasts, the talk on any subject was full of charity, together with its joys and pleasures. The spiritual sphere dominant at those feasts was that of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour, which made everyone's mind cheerful, softened his tone of voice and spread a joyful feeling from the heart to all the senses. Every person has a spiritual sphere radiating from him, which is the product of the affection of his love and so of his thought, and this inwardly affects his companions, especially at feasts. It is radiated both by the face and by the breathing. It is because such associations of minds were meant by lunches, dinners or feasts that they are so often mentioned in the Word; and such too is the meaning of these terms in its spiritual sense. The same is true in the highest sense of the Passover dinner among the Children of Israel, and by banquets at other festivals, as well as by feeding on the products of sacrifice beside the Tabernacle. The act of linking was then represented by breaking and distributing bread, and by drinking out of the same cup and passing it on to the next person.

/ 853  

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.