How Warm a Welcome?

“You would think it rude to leave a friend alone, who came to visit you: why then must God be neglected?”

That simple, stark question broke through to me when I read it recently in a Christian devotional classic, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence.

Blessed Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, patron saint of cooks, chefs, and cobblers, from an icon by Rebecca LaChance

Brother Lawrence considered God his best and truest friend. This is sharp contrast to a friend of mine who thought that God was the reason for her troubles, and said, “If God is your friend, you must have nightmares,” she said.

My human friend believes in the picture of God with which she grew up: a vengeful, unpredictable, angry divine being. She thinks that people like me who see a compassionate God, a loving being who cares for all, are just making it up, that we are guilty of a modern fantasy.

But Brother Lawrence (1614-1691) is no modernist, nor did his hard life as a soldier in the brutality of the Thirty Years War lead him to fantasy. After his military service, he became a Carmelite lay brother, serving first as the cook of the community and later as a sandal-maker. His vocation was “prayer and work.”

God is at my house today, and at yours, too. How warm is our welcome?