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November 24, 2015

Good News for Today

While some people were admiring how their place of worship was built with exquisite stonework and adorned with rich votive offerings, Jesus remarked, “Everything you are looking at here–the days will come when there will not be left one stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21)

This “prediction” of Jesus was written by someone afterwards—who knew that (40 years later) the Roman army annihilated Jerusalem and its temple. Your danger and mine is to view these words as a kind of interesting docudrama in writing—and then tuck it away into the attic of religion and irrelevant history.

The simplest and most obvious lesson for you to consider is that ALL sacred sites change in time. Stonehenge—a healing shrine for millennia of prehistory—has become a sterile, amazing and puzzling bunch of stones. A beautiful Romanesque church of my childhood in Southfield, Michigan, has been sold to a different religion.

But what Jesus points to is much, much more personal to you and me—it is about worship and the importance of interior prayer. In Matthew 6 Jesus reminds us to pray “en crypto”—in a private, hidden place. The King James Version uses the word “closet.”

Prayer is not stones, nor beauty. True permanence of worship arises in the needs and gratitude of your soul. The Word of God endures forever—that is, the conversation between you and the One who Made You. Surely you and I need places of retreat and sanctuary, surrounded by beauty and community, busy at times with ritual and song. But it all passes. The stillness at your heart remains. The stillness of your heart IS prayer. And it is not stone.

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