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

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God’s Family

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd guards his flock.

Jeremiah 31:10-11

A few weeks ago, a headline drew my attention to Pope Francis. He stole my heart when he appeared on the balcony over St. Peter’s Square just after his election. Rather than donning the ornate cape normally placed over the shoulders of a new pontiff, he chose to greet God’s people without it. This pope intended to lead God’s people as one of God’s people.

Throughout his relatively short tenure, Francis has stunned some while touching the hearts of others with his approachable demeanor and his openness to reform in the church. Francis seems keenly aware of Jesus’ propensity to embrace outcasts. This pope is also keenly aware of Jesus’ generous and indiscriminate rendering of healing and mercy upon all who require them.

If you have a family, you understand how difficult it can be to “fix” things which have gone awry over the years. Sometimes, delicate urging is all that is needed. Sometimes, strong and deliberate effort is required. In this family which I call “church”, it seems that both lie ahead for Francis. Both lie ahead for you and me as well. While Francis sorts out what is and isn’t essential from his perspective, you and I must do the same. Regardless of our religious affiliations or lack thereof, we all have relationships with God. It is up to us nurture these relationships by treating one another with love, just as God does.

Loving God, we try to do our best when it comes to our relationships with you. Help us to make this evident in our acceptance and our love of one another.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved