One of my favorite sayings of mine is “The church may be considered God’s house, but the heart is his home.” For those of us who do worship in a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or maybe even in nature, we hopefully do so because we want to somehow find a way to become closer to God, Spirit, Universe, Nature (or the God of our understanding). We may go because we enjoy the teachings, the music, and/or the camaraderie of our fellow seekers. We may go because we like to be with people of like-mind, those who believe the way we do. We may also go because some of us do learn from the teachings from man. And for those who are closest to God in nature, we may go because we can feel God’s energy from this magnificent earth whose beauty was created out of God’s love. It’s wonderful that we have such a wide diversity of places and ways to worship.
Churches and other places of worship should be a place where people can go to feel loved, uplifted, and where they can feel better coming out than they did when they went in. People should feel nurtured, embraced, safe, and welcomed. They should be able to feel this regardless of color, race, religion, gender, or walk of life. God loves all his children and this should be felt even in the buildings or other places people gather to share their love for God.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and people are beginning to leave churches for various reasons. As a minister, some people have confided in me that they refuse to ever go to a church again because when they tried, they were judged, condemned, or some were even turned away being told they weren’t welcome there for whatever reasons, sometimes because of the way they looked or because of their lifestyle. Granted there are many churches representing various religions and denominations who are very welcoming, inclusive, and who choose to love anyone who walks in their door. Jesus, who was one of the greatest examples of unconditional love, never turned his back on anyone regardless of whom they were or where they stood in society.
James Dillet Freeman (1912-2003), an internationally celebrated poet, speaker, and author, had been called a modern day Ralph Waldo Emerson. He wrote many wonderful stories and poems, which have been read by millions of people all over the world including having his poems taken by astronauts to the moon twice! He served the Unity School of Christianity as a teacher, writer, and speaker and many of his writings have been featured in “The Daily Word,” a Unity publication. I would like to share with you one of his writings titled “Blessings for a Church.”
“This is God’s house. May we who come here not only find out about God, but find God. May there be beauty in this place, but especially may it be a place where men and women become aware of the beauty in themselves. May this be a place of worship. May this be a place of instruction. May this be a place of singing. May this be a place of prayer. But for those of us who worship and take instruction and sing and pray, May this always be a place of inner stillness, Where we may listen and hear when God speaks. May whoever ministers here minister in love. May whoever teaches here teach truth. May whoever serves here serve pleasantly. May everyone come into this house in expectation, and go with thanksgiving, and may anyone who comes needing help go feeling blest. May this be such a house that Jesus Christ ~ or any stranger, even the least ~ would feel in it that he was with friends.” (This is a poem, but is condensed for space.)
Personally, this poem speaks of my ideal place of worship, regardless of where that place may be, regardless of what religion, or who may attend. Everyone should feel blessed.
Mr. Freeman also wrote what is called the “Prayer for Protection,” which is said weekly at many, if not most, Unity Churches at the end of their services. “The Light of God surrounds Us; The Love of God enfolds Us; The Power of God protects Us; and the Presence of God watches over Us; Wherever we are, God is! And all is well!”
God is where you find him. Some find him in a church, some find him in nature, and/or some find him within. Wherever you find him, may you feel loved, nurtured, embraced, and at peace.
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen May 3, 2013.