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.

1125. Flowers heal me. Clematis make me happy. I keep myself surrounded by it… ~Edited excerpt by Rebecca Wells

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Natalie, Natalie, oh so merry
How does your garden grow?
With a vine here, and another one there,
Of pretty clematis climbing on high.

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Clematis vine boasts vibrant hue,
now seeks acclaim for ocean’s blue,
and strives to catch the morning dew.
~Cona Adams

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If I had grown up in that house
I couldn’t have loved it more,
couldn’t have been more familiar with
the creak of the swing, or the pattern of the clematis
vines on the trellis, or the velvety swell of land
as it faded to gray on the horizon…The very
colors of the place had seeped into my blood.
~Donna Tartt

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On the warm stone walls, climbing roses
were just coming into bloom and
great twisted branches of honeysuckle and
clematis wrestled each other as they
tumbled up and over the top of the wall.
~Meg Rosoff

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Happiness is remembering my wild and lovely garden,
Arbors of white roses and purple clematis;
Pretty yellow daylilies and daffodils beside a rail fence,
Placing carefully flowers, I create a soul-soothing retreat.
In my beautiful garden all my old favorites grow,
No color does not have its place to welcome birds and butterflies;
Even wild flowers and vines, and kittens grow,
Seeding themselves the purple larkspur and rosy phlox;
Such beauty, O such beauty, had rested beneath the snow.
~Edited acrostic by Broken Wings

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Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. ~Psalm 37:4  ✝

1027. Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with beauty of sunset, with the quiet of nature, with a warm and cozy cottage. ~Thomas Kincade

Many miles away there’s a shadow
on the door of a cottage
on the Shore of a dark Scottish lake.
~Sir Walter Scott

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Let there be a cottage….a real cottage…a white cottage, embowered with flowering shrubs, so chosen as to unfold a succession of flowers upon the walls, and clustering round the windows through all the months of spring, summer, and autumn—beginning, in fact, with May roses, and ending with jasmine. Let it, however, not be spring, nor summer, nor autumn—but winter, in his sternest shape. This is a most important point in the science of happiness. And I am surprised to see people overlook it, and think it matter of congratulation that winter is going; or, if coming, is not likely to be a severe one. On the contrary, I put up a petition annually, for as much snow, hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, as the skies can possibly afford us. Surely every body is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a winter fire-side: candles at four o’clock, warm hearth-rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies on the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without… ~Thomas De Quincey

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Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars… ~Psalm 148:7-9   ✝

**Images via Pinterest

490. Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts and no one to thank. ~Christina Rossetti

La plus grande des joies
C’est de croire en Toi
Et de se réfugier en Toi
Père des Mondes,
Et de l’Enfant en moi.
~Poème written by Frédéric at: http://poemsandpoemes.wordpress.com/about/
Translation:
The greatest joy
It is to believe in You
And take refuge in You
Father of the Worlds
And of the Child in me.

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Recently I was up early enough to witness dawn’s first golden glimmer of light pierce holes in the dense, leafy green darkness at the back fence. Then as the morning light lifted night’s dark shades higher and higher, the fragrance of Autumn Clematis floated along on the bright morn’s happy wings. Soon butterflies, creatures of the wind, danced and rejoiced while happy voices on the TV echoed in celebration within the walls of a sanctuary. Therein the sunlight fell in brilliant fragments through the stained glass windows, and all that those colorful bits of light touched seemed to be filled with the same kind of holiness that I had felt streak through our trees.

“To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature.  Most persons do not see the sun.  At least they have a very superficial seeing.  The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child.  The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lord I love the Temple where you live, where your glory is. ~Psalm 26:8   ✝

** Image via Pinteest

397. Where we love is home, home that out feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Home is a name, a word;
it is a strong one,
stronger than magician ever spoke
or spirit ever answered to,
in the strongest conjuration.
~Charles Dickens

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May God bless the place where you dwell. May He bless every heart that beats beneath its roof. May every hand be blessed that toils to bring joy therein, and may every foot that walks its portals through be blessed. When you leave the shelter of its roof and walls, may sunshine brighten your path, rainbows follow the rain, and soft winds freshen your spirit. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you, and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love. ~An edited and adapted collection of Celtic blessings

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3 ✝

Thank you, 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! Like Saint Hildegard Lord, may I too be a feather on your holy breath and spread, like seeds, the gospel abroad.

376. Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength, and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life. ~Joseph Conrad

Forests, lakes, and rivers,
clouds and winds, 
stars and flowers,
stupendous glaciers, 
and crystal snowflakes –
every form of animate 
or inanimate existence,
leaves its impress on the soul of man.
~Orison Swett Marden

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Eenie, meenie, miney, moe–it’s hard to decide what to sing the praises of in a garden this time of year. “Animate or inanimate” it’s all good. In mine Yahweh “leaves His impress” in my mind, heart, and soul for hour after hour, day after day He ushers in gifts that take my breath away. So it is that I’ve been able to witness for myself that His wells of mercy, grace, goodness, and forgiveness never run dry nor do His faithful provisions. My cup, like the beauty in these chalice-like blossoms, is continually filled to overflowing. And why not? Herein I’m awakened daily with birdsong, sunlight filling sapphire skies, days breaking in exhilaration, and zephyrs spreading sweetly scented aromas in places where holiness falls like misting rain. This place is where I felt the Lord’s presence again after a long lapse in my faith journey, and when I renewed my relationship with Him amidst its treasures, my roots sank deep in its soil and His being. Thus I remain deeply connected to my yard and Him through something not unlike the life-giving umbilical cord that nurtures a child in a mother’s womb. This place on earth’s sacred ground is my sanctuary, and its “walls” echo voices that not only mentor me but hopefully others with whom I share its ageless tales and “shy presences.”

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I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God. ~Deuteronomy 32:3 ✝

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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!

340. I sit in my garden, gazing upon beauty that cannot gaze upon itself, and I find sufficient purpose for my day. ~Robert Brault

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The garden reconciles human art and wild nature,
hard work and deep pleasure,
spiritual practice and the material world.
It’s a magical place because it’s not divided.
The many divisions and polarizations
that terrorize a disenchanted world
find peaceful accord
among mossy rock walls,
rough stony paths,
and trimmed bushes.
Maybe a garden sometimes seems fragile
because it achieves an extraordinary
delicate balance of nature and human life, naturalness and artificiality.
It has its own liminality,
its points of balance between great extremes.
~Thomas Moore

My beloved has gone down to the garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather the lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies. ~Song of Songs 6:2-3 ✝

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!