Rev. Bradley Gosselin, NST
Lily Dale Spiritualist Church, Lily Dale, NY
It is interesting that from the beginning of time three questions have intrigued mankind. Is there life after death? Is there a Spirit World? And is communication possible?
In the earliest of days, what we called ancient times, Spirit tried to prove those points and they were looked upon as magic and viewed though superstition. Throughout the ages the oracles, priests, sages and priestesses in the temples talked about an afterlife, made predictions, and foretold of things to come; and in many cases they were discounted. The ancient philosophers wrote of a Spirit World, of an afterlife and in many cases they too were discounted.
In 325 AD, King Constantine called the Council of Nica together and had the bishops declare, that the people could no longer talk to God, but they had to talk to the priests, and from that time on the churches, in the name of religion, tried to take control of the people. They told them that they had to do this, they had to do that. But, all the major religions did leave that thread of Spiritualism through them, that there is an afterlife and that there is a Spirit World. They all called it a different name, but it didn't matter; it was the same thing.
Time went on, the churches, because they felt they were losing control of the people as they came along, called those mediums out there, witches. They burned them, they hung them, they drowned them. It was probably another couple of hundred years before mediumship started to come forward again.
In 1744 Emanuel Swedenborg was the first to talk about the Spirit World, to talk about the different spheres of the Spirit World and write about it. Emanuel Swedenborg was a brilliant engineer and scientists. When he came forward with his religious teachings about life in the Spirit World, he too, was sometimes discounted. In many cases he had to hide for his life because they wanted to burn him as a witch, but he talked about it and he wrote about it.
In the early 1800's one of our early pioneers, Andrew Jackson Davis, started writing and he talked about a place called Summerland which was the Spirit World, and he wrote many beautiful things about that world; about the things that we have to look forward to some day.
It wasn't until 1848 when two little girls, Katy and Maggie Fox brought forth proof through the physical phenomena of rappings that communication with the Spirit World is a possibility and a fact. After they brought their demonstration of physical phenomena and the raps, the mediums who had been in their houses parlors, holding circles and holding séances, started coming forward. And we started to learn the truth about the wonders of the Spirit World. They started to bring through the wonders and beauty of physical phenomena. So it went on and the phenomena grew and Spiritualism came again to the forefront.
It is interesting, that as the scientists came to debunk Spiritualism, people like Hume, Crooks and many others; those who came with an open mind realized that Spiritualism and the truth that it taught; that there was a Spirit World and that communication was possible; and that we did continue on after the so called physical death. It continued on but, many scientists came with a closed mind and said, "No, it is all bunk." Those who came with a closed mind walked away without accepting the proof of Spiritualism. Those who came with an open mind accepted and joined the movement. The dispute continued on.
In 1887 Professor Alfred Russell Wallace gave a lecture in San Francisco. For those who don't know professor Wallace, he was a renowned scientist and he had written about evolution and when he heard that Charles Darwin had a book ready to be published, he gave Charles Darwin all of his material and said, "Use it, you don't have to say it came from me. Just use it to define that theory of evolution."The theory of evolution came on to the world.
The scientists grabbed it and said, "See, there is no creation. Creation does not exist." But, they didn't really look, because Charles Darwin did not start before life, he stared with life. He talked about how life evolved.
We all evolve, we evolve from a seed to a fetus, to a child to a young adult, to full grown adult. That is the physical part of us that evolves, not the spiritual part, not the inner part of us that is the God Spark that resides within us.
I would like to read a small part of Professor Wallace's lecture. He said, and the lecture was "If a man die shall he live again?" It was in 1887 in San Francisco.
He said, "If a man die, shall he live again? This is the question that in all ages has troubled the souls of men. The prophets and the wise men of antiquity were in doubt as the the answer......."
He goes to say, if there is no afterlife what is there in the life we are living? I we have no hope of a future existence then why do we have any moral teachings, why do we have any moral beliefs; why do we decide that there is a right and a wrong; why do we have affections for family and friends, spouses, children? Why do we bother if there is no afterlife? Why do we bother if we have nothing to leave behind us? Why do we bother if this is all there is? Think about it.
What a sad commentary it would be if you knew that some day, when this physical existence is over, there is nothing to look forward to, that there is not the beauty of the Spirit World that so many have come back to tell us about. Think about it. Why then would this life be worth living; why then would we take the time and effort to try to make ourselves a better person, a better individual? or to share that love that God gave us with all humanity, whether we know them or not. Why would we pray as we did earlier for those in war torn countries, for those in Ecuador? Why? Because, we know there is an afterlife. We do know that there is a future ahead of us. We do know the someday we will look back on the beauty of this life, on what we have done, on what we have given, on what we have accomplished, and on what we have left behind.
It is important to understand that as Spiritualism teaches, we have a moral responsibility. If we didn't believe in an afterlife, why would we have a moral responsibility?
I would like to close with my favorite description of Spiritualism.
"Ask the Spiritualist who really knows, "What is Spiritualism." He will tell you that it is not only the most comforting, uplifting, simple and utterly reasonable religion, the most satisfactory and workable philosophy, the most interesting, thrilling and accurate science, but over and beyond all that, the most tremendous TRUTH that has ever offered itself to the consciousness of Man." by Marcella DeCou Hicks
That is what Spiritualism is all about "Truth." The truth that there is an afterlife, the truth that there is a Spirit World; the truth that they do come back and communicate with us, the truth that we do have guides that help us, and guide us - that bring us love, that bring us light and helps us to find that inner peace we search for, that help us to make this a better world, to help us to make ourselves a better individual.
A friend of mine had her father pass away last week and I sent her a note and I said, "Isn't it wonderful, as a Spiritualist, to know that he had gone on to the Spirit World, that he has no more pain or discomfort, that his is free at last." But, over and beyond all of that understand that it is the physical loss that is more difficult. It is the physical loss that we must overcome. As much as we know that they have found peace, we have to find our own peace with our loss. As much as we know that we can call on them and they will visit us, it is still the physical presence that we miss.
So remember, there is life after this so called death. There is a Spirit World. Communication with that Spirit World is available to each and every one of us. It is available within varying degrees. We have mediums that come and work from the platform, that bring us wonderful messages. We can sit in our own homes and we can do our meditations and reach out to our loved ones in the Spirit World and know that they are with us, and if we pay close attention, we can feel their breath and we can hear their words.
I thank you and many the love of Spirit fill your heart.