1387. In the early Celtic churches, earth, sea, and sky were, rather than enclosed sanctuaries, the temple of God. The high-standing crosses were gathering places. ~J. Philip Newell

The world is holy.
We are holy. All life is holy.
Daily prayers are delivered on the lips
of breaking waves, the whisperings
of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.
-Terry Tempest Williams

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The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. We are to praise and glorify God in worship. As such, every Christian needs to be part of regular fellowship and worship. Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ.

Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Since people often have questions or doubts about Christ and Christianity, knowing the truth and being able to defend it is also part of the role of the church. But beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church must also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ. If a church fails to fulfill any of these key roles – worship, edification, evangelism – then the church is not functioning as God intends. Granted, there are times when churches face challenges and struggles to one degree or another, but a healthy church seeks to overcome such challenges in a way that honors God and His intentions for His church. (This paragraph and the one above it are excerpted from an article by Paul Velarde_)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

690. The world of Celtic spirituality is completely at home with the rhythm and wisdom of the senses. ~John O’Donohue

When you read Celtic nature poetry,
you see that all the senses are alerted:
You hear the sound of the winds,
you taste the fruits, and above all
you get a wonderful sense of
how nature touches human presence.
~John O’Donohue

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Nature isn’t just around us like the walls of a house or a building; it moves into our space and through our senses to touch us in very discernible ways. We live and breath and move on divine, holy ground and in that realm many of our life experiences come by means of our God-given senses. Even in the reading of Scripture spring’s coming is announced by the mouth in song and the ear in hearing. So this week as we approach Easter, be mindful that one should not only hear about Christ’s resurrection or see images of what happened on the Cross at Calvary, but we should also feel the agony He suffered and in a very real sense “taste” what His sacrifice accomplished.

May your body be blessed.
May your realize that your body is a faithful
and beautiful friend of your soul.
And may you be peaceful and joyful
and recognize that your senses are sacred thresholds.
May you realize that holiness is mindful,
gazing, feeling, hearing, and touching.
May your senses gather you and bring you home.
May your senses always enable you to celebrate
the universe and the mystery and
possibilities in your presence here. . .
~John O’Donohue

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. ~Isaiah 35:1-2   ✝

**Images via Pinterest, collage created by Natalie

534. The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest. ~William Blake

A year of beauty. A year of plenty.
A year of planting. A year of harvest.
A year of forests. A year of healing.
A year of vision. A year of passion.
A year of rebirth.
~Starhwak

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Irish immigrants fleeing from the Great Famine of the 1840’s brought versions of Halloween to North America. For them the celebration had its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian “All Saints Day” on November 1st. The festivities of the centuries-old holiday began at sunset and ended at midnight on October 31st. Samhain meant roughly “summer’s end,” and it was a celebration of the end of the “lighter half” of the year in which the daylight hours steadily increased and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year in which the daylight hours steadily decreased.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
~Excerpts from a blessing by
John O’Donohue

The land yields its harvest; God, our God blesses us. ~Psalm 67:6  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

397. Where we love is home, home that out feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Home is a name, a word;
it is a strong one,
stronger than magician ever spoke
or spirit ever answered to,
in the strongest conjuration.
~Charles Dickens

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May God bless the place where you dwell. May He bless every heart that beats beneath its roof. May every hand be blessed that toils to bring joy therein, and may every foot that walks its portals through be blessed. When you leave the shelter of its roof and walls, may sunshine brighten your path, rainbows follow the rain, and soft winds freshen your spirit. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you, and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love. ~An edited and adapted collection of Celtic blessings

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3 ✝

Thank you, Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

391. Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ~May Sarton

An edited blessing from the Celtic oral tradition of the 1st millennium and an edited passage from A RETREAT WITH ST. PATRICK:

Bless us O Lord,
You who are the peace of all things calm,
the place to hide from harm,
the light that shines in the dark,
the heart’s eternal spark,
the door that’s open wide
welcoming all to come inside.

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Lord, grant us Your wisdom to help us make good choices, Your strength to uphold us through life’s storms, Your eyes to look at others with compassion, Your ear to enhance our listening to their cries, Your hand to uphold us when faced with trials, and Your shield to protect us from that which and/or those who would do us harm.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, ~Isaiah 41:10 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

288. May brooks and trees and singing hills join in the chorus too, and every gentle wind that blows send happiness to you. ~Irish Blessing

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Bless to me, O God,
Each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God,
Each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God,
Each odour that goes to my nostrils;
Bless to me, O God,
Each taste that goes to my lips;
Each note that goes to my song,
Each ray that guides my way,
Each thing that I pursue,
Each lure that tempts my will,
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The Three that seek my heart.
~Old Celtic Prayer

Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall; happy are the people whose God is the Lord.  ~Psalm 144:15   ✝

165. Some praise the Lord for Light, the living spark; I thank God for the Night, the healing dark. ~Robert William Service, “Weary”

Night, the beloved.
Night, when words fade and things come alive.
When the destructive analysis of day is done,
and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again.
When man reassembles his fragmentary self
and grows with the calm of a tree.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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The air was crisp and cool; day’s light had just slipped away.  Wet blades of grass sparkled in a kind of diamond-dusted majesty under the glow of a rising harvest moon.  As if to punctuate my scattered thoughts, tiny aircraft lights glided from time to time through the darkening indigo sky.  When I began glancing around the yard, the images that confronted me seemed to be popping up like photos in a slowly advancing slide show.  The first one I saw was of the red turk’s caps underneath the rose arch, then the white moonflowers on the neighbor’s fence, fattening seed pods under the oak, a Celtic cross, a flying moth, an intermittently  shrouded moon.  The spell was broken only for a short while when the fragrance from my potted herbs temporarily seduced my nose.  Then the slide show started up again with a flash of yellow and white lights, followed by a rustling noise, leafy branches hanging low, a sculpted monk, stone rabbits, and a fleeting little lizard.  Music in the distance floated down the alley, and when I turned to follow the sound, I was startled by ghostly shadows dancing on the shed in the deepening darkness.  However the fear was fleeting and not enough to alleviate my growing sleepiness.  It wasn’t until water tapped noisily in the nearly drained fountain and a pair of feral cats came meowing at my feet that I was jolted out of my reverie.  And it had been such a lovely respite for a weary soul, always is when under the holy hosts of heaven that light the night.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and year…   ~Genesis 1:14  ✝