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.

380. Flowers are the alphabet of angels, whereby they write on the hills and fields mysterious truths. ~Benjamin Franklin

Yet, the great ocean hath no tone of power mightier
to reach the soul, in thought’s hushed hour,
than yours, ye Lilies! chosen thus and graced!
~Mrs. Felicia D. Hemans

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Lilies, beautiful lilies, I adore them! And I feel sure they’ve written “mysterious truths” on many a hill and field since they’ve been cultivated for thousands and thousands of years. Lilies were the holy flower of the ancient Assyrians, and there’s an ancient legend that says the lily sprang up from the tears Eve shed as she left the Garden of Eden. It has also been written that the lily-of-the-valley grew up from the tears shed by Mary over the death of her son, Jesus, the Messiah. The word lily in French is lis and the fleur-de-lis may be a stylized representation of a lily. However there’s been much controversy and debate about whether the stylized flower is a lily or a wild yellow iris instead. Despite the disputes, at some point in the Middle Ages, the fleur-de-lis did in fact become a religious symbol associated with the lily. That may have stemmed from words in the Song of Solomon and other passages of scripture or literary works since Christ has often been depicted amid stylized lilies.

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My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear. ~Anne Lamott

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My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies. ~Song of Songs 6:2 ✝

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!