God’s House

Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me, so that
they may be one just as we are one.

From John 17:11

This morning, my friend-since-kindergarten texted. A recent errand had placed my friend in close proximity to our old neighborhood. Because he’s as taken with that neighborhood as I am, my former classmate detoured through our former digs. This trek included a drive past his high school and mine. Of course, all of this ushered me back in time as well…

We grew up on the West Side of Chicago. Beside our church and school buildings, I was awed by the mysteriously awesome synagogue which stood a few blocks north of our parish church. I’d passed this building numerous times. Every time, I looked upon this stone-clad edifice with high regard. My mom had explained that this was a Jewish temple. She said that our doctor probably prayed there. As for me, I was convinced that the Lord God certainly lived in that holy place.

Years later, our neighborhood demographics and this building’s ownership changed. I remember exhaling a sigh of relief when I heard that it would remain God’s house. The synagogue was sold to a Christian church and it would serve as their place of worship. This thrilled me at the time because I knew that God would continue to live there.

You know, just as my friend and I continue to love our old neighborhood, God continues to love all of the places in which God dwells. I’m convinced that God loves that versatile place of worship as I do. Still, I’m even more convinced that God loves the spaces we make for God in our hearts even more!

Gracious God, thank you for residing in our houses of prayer and in our hearts.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Room In The Inn

“For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Isaiah 56:7

With just a few days left until Christmas, my husband confirmed the church decorating plan with all concerned. When he was assured all was well, we laughed over our annual futile attempts to provide seating for everyone who will come to worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Though such discussions might include comments about the “Christmas Birds” and “Easter Birds” whose only appearances for worship occur on these two holy days, this wasn’t the case. Mike and I take seriously the quote from Isaiah which I cite above. So it is that we will come up with more ingenious ways to squeeze in as many chairs as possible. We will make all of God’s children welcome as best we can. If we do a good enough job, perhaps some of our semi-annual visitors will feel welcome to join us more often!

In the mean time, all concerned work extremely hard to prepare our beautifully adorned church, amazing music and engaging liturgy. Everyone from our youngest parish children to our devoted seniors is involved. Yes, we’re making our church welcoming to everyone. After all, it’s God’s house and it’s Christmas!

Loving God, you open your house to all who come to your door. Help us to echo your welcome in all that we say and do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Where God Lives

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

While growing up, I lived around the corner and down the block from our parish church. This close proximity allowed me the opportunity to drop in whenever I felt the need. I took the term “God’s House” seriously and literally. I knew in my heart that when I went into church I was in the company of the Almighty. I also knew that I was always welcomed there. I felt quite assured of this because high above the sanctuary in the domed ceiling the words of Matthew 11:28 were written in gold. What more assurance did I need?

As I grew older, I discovered that God also abides within each one of us. Regardless of how pressing an issue might be, I could talk to God wherever I was, not only in church. Though I still popped into church for impromptu visits, I learned to pray in earnest wherever I was when circumstances merited this. I’m happy to share that it has become a lifelong habit to converse with God in good times and in bad wherever I am and whenever I’m not talking to someone else. I enjoy sharing these special moments with God whether I’m visiting at the church I call God’s House or in God’s home within me.

Loving God, thank you for inviting me into your consoling company wherever I am.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Door Is Always Open

“For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all people.”

From Isaiah 56:7

Finally, I feel prepared for Christmas. Everything here at home is ready and I can hardly wait to celebrate with my family. Everything at our parish church is ready, too. Since our parish was founded, my husband, our friend Terry and a crew of dedicated volunteers have decorated our worship space for Christmas. Before we had a church building, they transformed the school gym we rented into a beautiful and prayerful space. Since our church building was completed, they’ve done the same to inspire all who come with Christmas joy.

As always, we expect standing-room-only crowds. Like all churches, our numbers include “Christmas and Easter Birds” whose only appearances occur on these two holy days. This is fine with us. Like family, we know they are coming and we make every effort to seat them as comfortably as possible. All concerned work extremely hard to prepare our beautifully adorned church, amazing music and engaging liturgy. Everyone from our youngest parish children to our devoted seniors is involved. Our hope is that all who join us feel welcome. After all, our church is God’s house! And, after all, it’s Christmas! What better day is there to welcome everyone home?

Loving God, you open your house to all who come to your door. While some of us feel free to knock often, there are others who don’t. Please inspire all of your children to realize that they are welcome to your home any time and always.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Many Homes

Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me, so that
they may be one just as we are one.

From John 17:11

I grew up on the West Side of Chicago in a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood. Still, a mysteriously awesome synagogue stood a few blocks north of our parish church. I had passed this building numerous times, and every time I looked upon it with high regard. My mom had explained that this was a Jewish temple. Though I cannot recall what else she said about this looming edifice, I was convinced that the Lord God lived there.

Years later, when our neighborhood demographics changed, so did this building’s function. I remember exhaling a sigh of relief when I heard that it would remain a place of worship. The synagogue would become a Christian church. This made all of the sense in the world to me at the time because I just knew that God would continue to live there.

Gracious God, you are the creator and lover of us all. Help us to see one another as your children regardless of where we choose to worship you.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Home

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

While growing up, I lived around the corner and down the block from our parish church. This close proximity allowed me the opportunity to drop in whenever I felt the need. I took the term “God’s House” seriously and literally. I knew in my heart that when I went into church I was in the company of the Almighty. I also knew that I was always welcomed there. I felt quite assured of this because high above the sanctuary in the domed ceiling the words of Matthew 11:28 were written in gold. What more assurance did I need?

As I grew older, my parents and teachers taught me that God also abides within each one of us. Regardless of how pressing an issue might be, I could talk to God wherever I was, not only in church. Though I still popped into church for impromptu visits, I learned to pray in earnest wherever I was when circumstances merited this. I’m happy to share that it has become a lifelong habit to converse with God in good times and in bad wherever I am and whenever I’m not talking to someone else. I’m also happy to share that I still enjoy those special moments in God’s House.

Loving God, thank you for inviting me into your consoling arms wherever I happen to be.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved