1386. A true worship of God, therefore, can neither be contained between the four walls of a sacred building nor restricted to the boundaries of religious tradition. ~J. Philip Newell

The Christian church is not a building,
but a body of believers united in Christ.
Its role is to worship God, nurture and edify
and reach out to a suffering world.
~Robert Velarde

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What Is the Church?
Excerpts from an article by Robert Velarde

When most people hear the word church they probably think of a building. Maybe it is a fancy building or a simple building where believers gather. But biblically speaking, a church is much more than a building. In fact, some would say that the church is not a building at all, but is all about the people.

The early Christian church had no buildings, at least not in the sense of what we would consider church buildings today. First century Christians were often persecuted and, as a result, often met in secret usually in homes. As the influence of Christianity spread, eventually buildings dedicated to worship were established and became what we know today as churches. Church structures facilitate the role of God’s people, but they do not fulfill it.

When speaking of the church, theologians often use terms such as the visible and local church as opposed to the invisible and universal church. The visible and local church is, of course, the physical churches that we see around us and around the world, as well as the members of those churches. The invisible and universal church, however, refers to all believers everywhere and is one church, united in Christ, not many physical churches.

In the temple of my inner being,
in the temple of my body,
in the temple of earth, sea, and sky,
in the great temple of the universe
I look for the light that was in the beginning,
the mighty fire that blazes still from the heart of life,
glowing in the whiteness of the moon,
glistening in night stars,
hidden in the black earth,
concealed in unknown depths of my soul.
In the darkness of the night,
in the shadow of my being, O God,
let me glimpse the eternal.
In both the light and the shadows of my being
let me glimpse the glow of the eternal.
From SOUNDS OF THE ETERNAL
by J. Philip Newell

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. ~Job 11:7-9  ✝

**Image is the remains of Tintern Abbey in Britain. It cannot contain God nor the light.

The Identity Crisis…

In a way this is a reblog of my granddaugter’s post today. It was another great one, and I decided to share it with my followers, but rather that use the graphic she did, I wanted to include pictures of her and her family. Here’s the link to her blog, Living for Christ and Adventure at: https://alwayslivingforhim.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/the-identity-crisis/#respond

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 9.54.38 PM.pngAnd here’s the text of her post today:

Hi, my name is Annie. I am a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. I am an International Business and Marketing double major with a Spanish minor. I am an active member of Sigma Phi Lambda, a Christian, non-panhellenic sorority. I am involved in Cru and go to church every Sunday. I am dating a wonderful guy. Despite being a child of divorce, I grew up in a very supportive and loving family. I love writing, hammocking, drinking coffee, underground bands, painting, and photography. So I guess you could say that I am typical hipster Christian girl. But that isn’t my identity. My identity is found only in Christ, and so is yours.

Growing up in America, I think it becomes very easy to always be searching for “yourself.” We have all probably heard the saying in movies or maybe in real life, “I think I just need to take some time ‘to find myself.’” What does that even mean?? Who you are is not going to be found in something or someone in this world.

I am a daughter of the Most High. You are a child of the Most High. Your identity should be found in Christ alone. I can not stress this enough. Whenever you try to find it in any other thing, you will inevitably always feel a little confused about who you really are.

Sure you may be thinking “yeah I know this already.” I’ve grown up in the church being told this which is so cool, and I’m glad you know. BUT are you really grasping what this truth means? I think that if as Christians, we really understood our identities in being children of God, the world would look very different. Understanding and living out the truth, that the Creator of the universe looks at us and calls us His, is crazy, y’all!!

When you focus on your true identity, you will experience His joy. His desires can truly become your desires. You will not be able to be quiet about His grace that He extends to you by calling you His perfect daughter/son. Truly understanding our identity is a game changer. It makes all of the turns and twists of this life not seem so scary because we know that it doesn’t change who we are at our core.

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

385. Like billowing clouds, like the incessant gurgle of the brook the longing of the spirit can never be stilled. ~Hildegard von Bingen

Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God. ~Hildegard von Bingen

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O most noble Greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendor upon the wheel of Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn!
You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

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O moving force of Wisdom, encircling the wheel of the cosmos,
Encompassing all that is, all that has life,
in one vast circle.
You have three wings: The first unfurls aloft
in the highest heights.
The second dips its way dripping sweat on the Earth.
Over, under, and through all things whirls the third.
Praise to you, O Wisdom worthy of praise!

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Holy spirit, making life alive,
moving in all things, root of all created being…
You are lustrous and praiseworthy life,
You waken and re-awaken everything that is.

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Who was she, this feather on the breath of God? By name, she was Hildegard von Bingen; by profession, among other things, she was a writer of one of the largest bodies of letters to survive from the Middle Ages. Born in 1098, Hildegard was given as a tithe to the church, and later as a writer of poetry and songs as well as theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, a composer, a philosopher, a Christian mystic, and a benedictine abbess, it has been said that “her life tells of an irresistible spirit overcoming social, physical and gender barriers to achieve great things in the service of Christ.”

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. ~Psalm 91:4  ✝

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!

**Poetry by Hildegard von Blingen
** Images via Pinterest

225. Stripes that are red like the blood shed for me. ~Author Unknown

There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
~Joseph G. Holland

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The strongest connection one might make between the origins of the candy cane and any intentional Christian association is to guess that possibly some unknown person, at some indefinite time, took a long-existing form of sweet (i.e., straight white sticks of sugar candy) that was already associated with Christmas and produced bent versions of it to represent a shepherd’s crook and/or make it easier to hang on Christmas trees, but even that general association is nothing more than mere supposition with no supporting evidence behind it.  This is charming folklore, but one should not lose sight of the fact that such stories of the candy cane’s origins are, like Santa Claus, myths and not “true stories.”

There is one verifiable (albeit indirect) religious connection associated with the modern candy cane, however.

In 1919 Bob McCormack began making candy canes for local use and sales in Albany, Georgia, and by the middle of the century his company (originally the Famous Candy Company, then the Mills-McCormack Candy Company, and later Bob’s Candies) had become one of the world’s leading candy cane producers. But candy cane manufacturing initially required a fair bit of labor that limited production quantities (the canes had to be bent manually as they came off the assembly line in order to create their ‘J’ shape,) and it was McCormack’s brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller, who came up with the solution: Father Keller invented the Keller Machine that automated the process of shaping straight candy sticks into candy canes.   ~Barbara Mikkelson

The woman said to him, “I know Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).  “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”  ~John 4:25  ✝