So Very Close…

The Lord is near to all…
From Psalm 145:18

I admit that I experienced great relief this past Monday when I looked at my calendar and found that this is indeed the last week of August 2017. It has been a traumatic month on many levels. I felt convinced that turning the page to September will somehow make things better for us all. In the mean time, I returned to a bit of inspiration which has helped me in the past.

I have a collection of prayer cards and bookmarks. Though I’ve discarded others, I’ve kept each of these because of its particular words of wisdom. I purchased one homemade creation at a craft sale some time ago. The anonymous prayer on this bookmark celebrates the author’s experience of God. This prayer doesn’t celebrate the author’s keen knowledge of church teaching or of the scriptures or of theology. This prayer simply acknowledge’s the author’s awareness of God’s presence with both his or her psyche and heart. It seems to me that this author knows God in the same way that he or she knows an intimate friend. The best part is that God reciprocates this friendship in very tangible ways.

I’ve given that bookmark a new home on my desk. Every day, it encourages me to pray that each of us sees God with the open and loving eyes of this prayer’s author. I can think of nothing better for any of us than to truly understand with our heads and our hearts that God loves us passionately and remains with us always. Imagine how different August 2017 might have been if this was the case! Imagine what we can accomplish during September 2017 if only we acknowledge that God is with us!

Dear God, please reveal your friendship so unmistakably that we cannot miss your presence around us and within us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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A Place for Everyone

“But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you…”

Matthew 5:44

A few weeks ago, a very dear person shared her heartache with me. She’d attended her aunt’s funeral. During his sermon, the zealous pastor rejoiced over the woman’s strong faith because it certainly earned her a place in heaven. He went on to make it quite clear that there is only one true church and that those who do not belong to that true church will not enter heaven. Later in the service, this pastor announced that those who were not of his faith were not welcome to approach the altar to receive communion. My poor friend was beside herself because her aunt’s children had converted to another faith. Sadly, their reasons were quite legitimate, not that my friend felt that she had the right to judge this. My friend left her aunt’s funeral feeling more distraught than ever. She wished she’d never met that pastor and she resented his callous disregard for her cousins.

As we spoke, I admit that my heart vacillated between absolute empathy with my friend and complete anger with her pastor. In the end, I reassured my friend with everything I know about God’s love and God’s inclusiveness and I promised to pray for her cousins and that pastor.

When we parted ways, I considered Jesus’ stance toward outsiders. Jesus ate with them and shared his love with them -no questions asked. It seems to me that Jesus asks that we do the same at church, in our neighborhoods and homes. Everywhere!

Loving God, help us to welcome one another into our hearts.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved