The doors of the storefront church were thrown open, revealing the view of pear trees just starting to bloom on the street. A small number of us were gathered informally at midweek to share how we had been healed by God through prayer and study of the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper.
Just moments before we started, a mother walked by with her two small children a baby in a stroller and the other about four years old. The older child stopped suddenly, greeted us confidently, and then came in and hugged each one of us without exception. She gave us a big "bye" and was on her way. Her mother looked as though she was used to this. We all looked at one another and said, "Now, that's church."
Perhaps I should get more used to this. I have been digging more deeply into what church really is, and this has led me to think about daily worship and what it means to me and to the community. Does my worship of God include childlike acceptance, inclusiveness, and absolute readiness to share God's love that was so evident in the innocence of this little girl? This kind of worship becomes celebration anytime, anywhere.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we're actually worshiping cherishing or honoring something every moment. It could be any number of things another person, our next activity, or even our own worries and fears.
But worshiping a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and who is pouring forth good under every circumstance to His dearly loved creation opens our heart to receive His messages that tell us how to live with freedom and joy. If I'm praising God, I am less likely to think selfishly. When I'm honoring God, fear is less likely to get my attention. In glorifying God, the body stops being a focal point. This is living worship.
If church is just a building that I go to in order to worship, then where is my worship when I'm not in the building or with others? If I had to be in a building to worship God, then there would be times when I couldn't worship. Realizing this has helped me identify the church in my heart as the daily moment-by-moment worship of God. If I bring this to a church gathering within a building, then I'm bringing life to it instead of trying to get life from it. The church experience becomes useful to me and to others.
A Bible verse says, "The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (I Cor. 3:17). This says very directly to me that we can identify our thought as the holy and sacred temple of God in which our life becomes the very place where God is known, felt, and dwelling among us. Each time I honor God as the source of every thought, action, and word, I am worshiping Him.
The word holy means something set apart to glorify God. I find it helpful to think of my thought as reflecting God, Love, and therefore set apart for the specific purpose of glorifying Love. This is not a setting apart from others or the community, but a setting apart from any thought or action that would keep me from fulfilling the holy purpose of being created like God and living in unity with His whole creation.
Mary Baker Eddy describes church, in part, as "The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle" (Science and Health, pg. 583).
Here is explained the spiritual foundation and premise of church as Principle, Truth, and Love, including the unchanging outflow of spiritual dignity, praise, joy, and harmony. This is God and His temple, you and I.
I'm discovering that whether I am in a building, worshiping with large or small numbers of people, talking with a friend, or listening alone in prayer to God's messages, I can honor God and glorify His presence wherever I am. These experiences become places of worship and naturally bless others and become the seeds of community.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord
in the beauty of holiness.