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We aren’t just obligated to go to church, it is something we desperately need

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The church, is always in the midst of a storm… but safe in Him

Devotional Thought of the Day:
20  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22  let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.     Hebrews 10:20-25 (NLT)

997    Absence, isolation: trials for your perseverance. Holy Mass, prayer, sacraments, sacrifices, communion of the saints: weapons to conquer in the trial.

Growing up, there was a sense that church was an obligation.  In fact, there were days called “holy days of obligation.” To miss going to church on these days was considered a sin.

But I never asked why it was a sin, I was just told it was, and I responded as everyone does when forced to do a task, I rebelled.  Didn’t go, and even if I did, I wasn’t really there, I wasn’t really particpating. So even if I was there, I really wasn’t. 

The one thing I never asked was why we were obligated, and if I had, I am hoping the answer would have been what we see above in Hebrews 10.  There God makes clear that we are welcome there, and there we find encouragement to endure until Christ returns. 

We need to be with each other, we need to be celebrating God’s presence together, we need to share as those who receive His mercy.  (this is why I am so in favor of having the Lord’s Supper weekly, if not offered more frequently!)  
For there together, we find God keeping His promises – reconciling that which was torn apart, healing that which is broken.Bringing together that which was isolated and fitting into the place it fits in His body.  We were created to experience life in community, as part of something that endures, that is sustained, that grows healthy and strong. 

As we realize that this is not an obligation of force, but one of need, our hearts change.We begin to treasure what church brings, we see it as a time that is holy, set apart as a time for us to find rest, and refuge, forgiveness, and the awareness of God’s presence in our lives.  A presence confirmed as others tell us His peace is with us, that He is with us. 

As we realize this church goes from being more than an inspiring message, or uplifting music.  The gathering of people we realize is something sacred, the place they occupy becomes holy, it becomes a moment where heaven is revealed. 

It is what we desperately need, it is what those around us need……and so the more we go, the more we realized we needed to…. 

For this is why we were made…. to live in peace with God and each other.  AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2315-2316). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Why go to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day…..

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:

As I was in the place between sleep and waking this morning, my mind wandered and thought of the “work” that lay ahead of me this day…. a marathon of study and writing, and then two church services – and then just a few hours of sleep – then up for yet again another service.  It’s a long day, this last day of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

And while I know it will be a great blessing, it is a long day as well….and part of me – just longed to sleep in!  It’s the classic battle of our lives!

Some would use guilt, or a call to duty, or other gimmicks to give them the strength to get done what needs to be done.  To be honest, I’ve thought of that, for all one has to do is look at the “successful” churches – and such techniques are used – even as they sincerely desire to have people come and hear of God’s love.   It works – and there will be churches that are full, cathedrals with people huddling in from the cold, as people respond to the call of a “Holy Day of Obligation”, or that come because there is an incredible “show”.

My heart longs for our sanctuary to be filled – but it also longs for a different attitude from those coming.  One that comes, in response to God’s love… to celebrate it, to hear about it, to revel in it.

Christmas Eve, as we re-live the last moments of expectation, and celebrate the coming of Christ, and indeed, Christmas Day as well – are not days of our obligation as much as days were God did what He fulfilled His obligations, His responsibility to us.  That is what these days are about.   Going all the way back to the Garden, God promised to cover our sins, He promised to fix our brokenness, He promised that we would always be welcome in His presence, and He has given us Jesus, His only begootten Son, and the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit to prove it.

I long for the day, when this is so clear – that we rush to church – to hear it confirmed again, to celebrate this great love, to gather – not because we have to – but because it just makes sense to be with each other, those united in Christ, those who are One in Him.

They may say I am dreamer – but to quote the song, I am not the only one…..

A priest/pastor wrote…

In the interior life, as in human love, we have to persevere. Yes, you have to meditate often on the same themes, keeping on until you rediscover an old discovery. “And how could I not have seen this so clearly before?” you’ll ask in surprise. Simply because sometimes we’re like stones, that let the water flow over them, without absorbing a drop. That’s why we have to go over the same things again and again—because they aren’t the same things—if we want to soak up God’s blessings. (1)

I pray that as we gather this day. and tomorrow, and I pray that you do gather, that our hearts are open wide, are open expectantly, to soak up God’s blessings, to revel in them, to rejoice, and celebrate His love, that you know the depth and height and width and breadth of God’s love for you, in Christ Jesus.  And I pray you pray the same for me…

Merry Christ’s gathering!  (for that’s what Christmas means!)

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2034-2039). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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