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.

1243. Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it. ~Mary Oliver

Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way
by Mary Oliver

If you’re John Muir you want trees
to live among. If you’re Emily
(or Natalie), a garden will do.
Try to find the right place for yourself.
If you can’t find it, at least dream of it.

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When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.

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Anything that touches.

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God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible,
entirely.

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Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.

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In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.

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All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.

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To understand many things you must reach
out of your own condition.

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For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest. What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!

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Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing.

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The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.

Stop and be astonished… ~Excerpt from Isaiah 29: 9 ✝

**All images taken by Natalie; the 3 collages by Natalie

1094. Part 2: Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never been seen. ~Robert Bresson

Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet
sculptor or photographer or musician or dancer
and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale
’til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.
~Edited and adapted quote by
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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How many of you liked to color when you were a child at least until someone said “you shouldn’t color outside the lines?” Or liked to build things that others knocked down for the fun of it? Or loved to twirl and dance around until someone laughed at you? Or beat out sounds on a little drum or hand made flute until someone implored you to quit making that awful racket? There are so many ways that unthinkingly people stifle the creative urge in us when we are young, and then we tuck the urges away until one day we have the courage to pick up that pen or that brush or that musical instrument or those ballet shoes or that camera or whatever to express that our creativity that has laid dormant within us. Wanna know why that urge is there and why it keeps coming to the surface? Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God, the Creator of all that is. So that need within us is an inextricable part of who we are and it’s there to serve a sacred purpose. Now before you say, “Oh I’m just not creative.” Yes, you are! You have to be because you are part of the Creator of everything. Everybody is creative in some way. Look at all the ways in which Yahweh created. Some of you may be an imaginative cook, or homemaker, or gardener, or teacher, or statesmen, or preacher, or seamstress, etc. Not every one is designed to make music or write poetry or dance the light fandango. There are thousands of ways to be creative and all of them are valid and come from our inherent ability to be creative. Creativity is not a competition. And no one, simply no one, has the right to criticize or discourage us from fulfilling what we have been anointed to do. In fact, in my way of thinking, it’s sacrilege to try to do so. And it is also not for anyone else to judge the quality or the reason or the necessity of what we create. It’s a God-given right and mandate for all that He has made serves a purpose. So I offer the following things to think on:

1) To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong. ~Joseph Chilton Pearce
2) Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. ~Scott Adams
3) All creative outlets require courage. ~Anne Tucker
4) The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf
5) What creativity offers is space — a certain breathing room for the spirit. ~John Updike
6) Creativity is not a thing; it is a way. ~Elbert Hubbard
7) Creativity is the struggle to understand. ~Terri Guillemets
8) Life beats down and crushes the soul and creative outlets remind one that he/she has one. ~Stella Adler
9) Creativity is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail. ~Theodore Dreiser

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So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ~Genesis 1:27  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collages by Natalie

837. Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety. ~René Daumal

I wonder if the mystery
is hidden in Creation. In plain sight.
~JoAnne Silvia
at: https://joannaoftheforest.wordpress.com/about/

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Earth is crammed with heaven, and
every common bush afire with God;
but only he who sees, takes his shoes off.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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When we understand the outside of things, we think we have them.
Yet the Lord puts his things in subdefined, suggestive shapes,
yielding no satisfactory meaning to the mere intellect,
but unfolding themselves to the conscience and heart.
~George MacDonald

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The true mystery of the world is
the visible, not the invisible.
~Oscar Wilde

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JoAnne made her comment above in response to my post yesterday, and I thought it too profoundly provocative not to repeat along with the thoughts of others who have made similar  remarks.

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes light. ~Ephesians 5:13  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

673. Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

There be delights that will fetch the day about
from sun to sun and rock the tedious year
as in a delightful dream …for a garden is Arcady
(a region of rural simplicity and contentment)
brought home.  It is man’s bit of gaudy
make-believe – his well-disguised fiction
of an unvexed Paradise – a world where
gayety knows no eclipse…
~Edited lines by John D. Sedding

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Shhhhhhh! Do you hear it? Okay, okay, try again. Listen carefully! Did you hear something this time? Did you? If not, did you see anything different? Surely with the vernal equinox only 4 days away, you’ve heard and seen the come-hither voice of springtime and the early signs of it that daily grow more visible and audible. In my yard and elsewhere birds are aflutter and atwitter as they bring nesting materials to birdhouses; colorful crocuses, upright and abloom, chant lovely, little ditties; green perennials whisper quiet anthems as they rise from wombs beneath the soil in search of light and warmth; iris spears that were cut back in the fall now stand tall again offering up gladsome refrains; busy, buzzing bees scurry about in search of nectar and pollen; swelling buds on cherry trees whisper pretty, pink ballads; and on and on go the sights and sounds that make the human heart leap as the faithful promise of Spring materializes once more.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. ~Psalm 6:11   ✝