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

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.

1305. [L]et us linger awhile in the wonderful old Lilac walk. It is a glory of tender green and shaded amethyst and grateful hum of bees. ~Alice Morse Earle

There are a thousand ways
to kneel and kiss the earth.
~Rumi

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Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness.  One of the doors
into the temple.
~Mary Oliver

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker… ~Psalm 95:6  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

1302. If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred. ~Walt Whitman

In order to experience everyday spirituality,
we need to remember that we are spiritual beings
spending some time in a human body.
~Barbara De Angelis

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The human body is am amazing masterpiece. With the senses we see, taste, and touch the world, drawing its mystery inside us. With the mind we probe the eternal structures of things. With the face we present ourselves to the world and recognize one another. But it is the heart that makes us human. The heart is where the beauty of the human spirit comes alive. Without the heart, the human would be sinister. To be able to feel is a great gift. When you feel for someone, you become united with that person in an intimate way; your concern and compassion come alive, drawing some of the other’s persons world and spirit into yours. Feeling is the secret bridge that penetrates solitude and isolation. Without the ability to feel, friendship and love could never be born. All feeling is born in the heart. This makes the human heart the true jewel of the world. ~John O’Donohue

Have joy and peace in the
temple of your senses.
~John O’Donohue

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~Proverbs 4:23  ✝

**Drawing by Catrin Welz-Stein

1133. Where does reverence arise in your life? ~Gratefulness.org

So often and especially this time of year, both reverence and gratefulness come forth from my ability to see. So I put together some words and collages of places, images, and/or ways that never fail to arouse reverence. As I sat looking out my window, I found great joy in finding the holy in the small and the sacred in the ordinary. Enjoy and count the ways reverence arises in your days.

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the sacrosanct lay on spring’s flowery altars

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the hallowed bloomed atop roses, old and new

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the sanctified twined and climbed on sundry vines

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the holy wafted forth from fragant berries and herbs

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the sacred was carried on the wings of pollinators

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the consecrated could be seen in a wide array of colors and hues

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But I, by your(God’s) great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. ~Psalm 5:7  ✝

**All images were taken in my yard

1112. To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle. Walt Whitman

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

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Tonight
Tonight I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the evening off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness.
One of the doors
into the temple.
~Edited and adapted poem
by Mary Oliver

Well, kiddies, I am taking the night off. My aging, aching back in killing me as I’ve been working too hard for too many days in the gardens. I pray you have a lovely evening. I shall be back tomorrow. Love, Natalie

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~Psalm 46: 10  ✝

**Image found on Pixabay

1053. Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle….a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream. ~Barbara Winkler

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream.
The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg,
and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs.
Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
~James Allen

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Part of the genius of God’s grand design is that we awaken every day to a fresh flowing of His energy and vitality that has been stored in the seeds of our being, seeds that possess the same strength as that of the rising sun, earth’s swelling seas, and its fertile plains. An excellent time to look for the shining of His everlasting light in the “sanctuary of the soul” is in the first waking moments of each new day. That inward realm is where doors open to the germination of new life because inside each one of us the Lord has planted His “seeds of greatness.” There’s never a moment in life when either in and of ourselves or in the people around us that there are not yet unopened gifts of promise. Simply put, “heaven’s creativity on earth” is born in our bodies, and therein the Master’s “sacred hopes” are hidden. And His hopes come to fruition through the germination of our gifts and through the catalyst of prayer when we lift up “the agonies of life in the world” and ask for grace where “the human soul has grown hard” and lost sight of God’s light. May the “soil” of this week be such that the precious, holy seeds of the uniqueness that is you fully come to fruition.

Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ~1 Corinthians 3:16  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest