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

1167. My job is to inform, not to convince. ~Saint Bernadette

Looking for God?
And haven’t found Him In a building
Or on an altar
Or in a religious rite
Or in a churchly ceremony
Or in the words/actions of Christians?

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“And the Holy Spirit descended in
a bodily shape like a dove upon Jesus,
and a voice came from heaven, which said,
“Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
~Luke 3:22  ✝

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So the answer lies in Jesus and what He taught
and how then, upon learning that, that people
choose to live out His teachings in their daily lives.
Of course there are always the proverbial “rotten apples”
found in any kind of “barrel,” but even though they
don’t  get it at all or get it right, they can’t spoil the Truth 
Sadly, however, there are those who pervert it
or by their wrong actions keep others from finding it.

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If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. ~1 Corinthians 13:1  ✝

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If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:2-3  ✝

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ~1 Corinthians 13: 4-7   ✝

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~1 Corinthians 13:13  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

1017. Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax.

Glory in the highest to God. And peace on earth.

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 8.39.42 AM.pngHallelujah, the babe is born, the Messiah has come!

I wish each and every one of you the merriest of Christmases, and I pray that you have a blessed encounter with Emmanuel, the Christ. Be comforted that God is with us now and forever. Love, Natalie

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

881. White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. ~G. K. Chesterton

The breeze at dawn has
secrets to tell you. Don’t
go back to sleep.
~Rumi

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Yahweh’s divine light is woven throughout the entirety of Creation’s multicolored tapestry. Among a host of other things, it can be seen in the soft radiance of a chromatic dawn “unveiling the whole face of nature,” in the blazing streaks of a brilliantly hued sunset at day’s end, in the white glow of the moon illuminating the night, and in an exquisite blossom that mimics the luminous lights of the heavenly orbs. But what does all that have to do with the breeze telling secrets at dawn, one might ask? The answer, my friend, is “blowing in the wind” as always. And it’s really no secret at all, for the breeze knows, as do I, that the Ancient of Days yet walks among us and is still in control of all that He has made.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is the name of his Son? Surely you know! ~Proverbs 30:4 ✝

**This white moonflower only blooms at night, but when I get up early in the morning I can capture its glory before in perishes in the bright light of day.

704. …What lies beyond the borders of this peaceful place… ~Excerpted lyric by Pyramaze

Outside the window
sits a pot of gerberas
opening the day

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Beyond them bloom some
roses in the kitchen bed
near the patio

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Onward is the rose
covered arch over a small
porch and rocking chair

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Bye, bye for now but
if you come back we will take
other looks beyond
~All haikus by written by
Natalie Scarberry

My first waking move every morning is from my bed to my reclining chair in front of my big glass doors that open onto the patio. From there I have a commanding view of about half of my backyard. And since the back of my house faces due east, I’m privileged to watch daybreak through the towering trees every morning. Even when it’s cloudy, the light slowly and captivatingly increases as the day dawns. This time of year, sunny or cloudy, what’s beyond those windows is the greatest show on earth. Its beauty represents years of clearing and digging and planting most of which was done, I might add, while I was still teaching. Now that I am retired, I am at last able to reap fully the rewards of the Lord’s blessings therein and my years of longing and labor. And I can honestly say that it was worth every bit of the hard work, the set backs, the failures, the tears, the back issues, and the worn-out knee which I just had replaced. For this–this piece of ground with its flowering beds is a holy place, a sacred sanctuary, a little piece of Eden in which my soul is fed by Him whose Presence yet haunts His Creation. It is where I’m reminded every day that I am His and He is mine, and I thank you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for this place and that gift.

You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord–even beyond the borders of Israel!‘ ~Malachi 1:5   ✝

692. Could life so end, half told; its school so fail? Soul, soul, there is a sequel to thy tale! ~Robert Mowry Bell

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices…
~Charles Kingsley

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These realities, of which Kingsley speaks, are meant to stir in humanity an ancient sense of belonging and in turn spark a desire to seek Yahweh, the Ancient of Days, but should they not, finding God in Christ is something even the blind can do. Our Creator sent us His son over 2000 years ago to be our memory and remind us of who we are and to whom we belong. Jesus is a revelation of our loving Father, of His amazing Grace, and of His Kingdom’s intention. And as the Messiah, Christ offers mortals, all of whom are subjected to detrimental temptation by malevolent forces in a fallen world, salvation, and then He, as their spiritual leader, directs those, who accept His offer, into righteous rhythms of life, into a willingness to serve others, and into the dance of life–a dance in which the whole universe can be seen as a partner.

“Easter is not a time for groping through dusty, musty tomes or tombs to disprove spontaneous generation or even to prove life eternal.  It is a day to fan the ashes of dead hope, a day to banish doubts and seek the slopes where the sun is rising, to revel in the faith which transports us out of ourselves and the dead past into the vast and inviting unknown.”  ~Author unknown, as quoted in the Lewiston Tribune

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:2 ✝

**Images via Pinterest, collage by Natalie

643. For it was not into my ear you whispered but into my heart; it was not my lips you kissed but my soul. ~Judy Garland

I would live in your love
as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes,
drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of
the
 dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats,
I would follow your soul as it leads.
~Sara Teasdale

*Holly over at House of Heart showed me how to insert music with my blog entries. So enjoy the love song at the bottom of this post.

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The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle—
Why not I with thine?

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See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain’d its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16    ✝

** Images via Pinterest