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Celebration of Worship – Going to ‘The Chapel’, and I’m. . .

January 9, 2012

Celebration of Worship ~ going to “The Chapel” and I’m…

What I love about my walk with God is that all too often when I go through dry seasons, God sends replenishing rains. Today’s walk, or should I say, ride, was no different.

Ever have those moments when you just ‘have to’ hear from God about the condition of your life?

En route to visit “The Chapel” in North Barrington this morning I took the long way. I was actually going to visit The Chapel in North Barrington, but I got lost. While driving my radio station was turned to Relevant Radio 950AM in Chicago. I entered into a live broadcast of a mass held by St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I encountered the priest beginning to administer the Eucharist and while the choir was singing in the background, the priest, who had a microphone on, had been saying “the Body of Christ”, “the Body of Christ”, “the Body of Christ”… It was as if I was hearing a beautiful orchestral piece only this was an orchestra of people receiving communion together.

This made me sad for the people who could not do as I was doing, go to church. The homebound, the elderly, the sick, the lost; but while the priest was still giving communion, the announcer came on the radio and said ever so softly, “for those unable to receive communion, please join us in prayer”.

What a beautiful conclusion to a mass which was aired by radio broadcast to the masses.

I continued to be more than a little lost, but my drive was exquisite, totally enraptured by listening to teaching on that Christian Radio Station for that hour taught me more than I’ve learned in a long time by comfortable sitting in my seat at services on the subjects of humility, justice, temperance and fortitude. I have a feeling God had me just where he wanted – even though I was lost.

More, next week, as I look forward to a visit to The Chapel in North Barrington – only this time, I’ll be going with directions in hand.

Author: Karen Frisella

Celebration of Worship – Week 3

December 21, 2011

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – St. John Cantius in Chicago

Visitors to Chicago in December would be truly enriched by listening and participating in St. John Cantius’ Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – simply inspirational!

If you’ve ever participated in an organized company of singers, you understand what it means to be immersed in the sound of music swirling all around you. Moreover, you, as a caroler, add your meager sound to the whole choir which gives it more meaning.

In much the same way, when experiencing the Lessons and Nine Carols at St. John Cantius, one is immersed in the splendor of beauty in this rich spiritual establishment. From the spectacular mahogany alter, to the ornate beauty of the figurines and stained glass images throughout the church…truly inspirational.

St. John Cantius is a Roman Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago. St. John’s offers daily the liturgy of the Roman rite in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. Its solemn liturgies and devotions, treasures of sacred art, and rich program of sacred liturgical music have helped many Catholics discover a profound sense of the Sacred. The historic baroque church is one of the best examples of sacred architecture in the city. But more beautiful than the treasures of art, stone and marble were the people who welcomed me into their sacred dwelling for a little while. A respite for a weary traveler. A jewel of warmth and hospitality.

Celebration of Worship – Week 2

November 28, 2011

The Urban Church – Willow Chicago

Our venture into the city landed us at the Auditorium Theatre, erected in 1889. The Auditorium is often cited as America’s most beautiful theater built by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan and is a marvel of arches and ornament. But this morning it is church to several hundred Chicagoans.

What struck me right away was the way in which we were welcomed. From the parking lot attendant who gave us directions to the greeters in the lobby, the church was a welcoming place indeed.

After finding our seats, the worship began with the opening song which was a jazzy rendition of Fiddler on the Roof’s, If I were a Rich Man, followed by Silent Night, sung in a Blue Grass style. The church consisted of people from very diverse backgrounds, both represented on stage and in the congregation. Young and old, rich and poor, people of color; a beautiful representation of the body of Christ.

My interpretation of the Message:

“In this Advent season”, Pastor Klinepeter said, “it is necessary to take the perspective that we, as followers of Jesus, we should be in the world, but not of the world.”

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

If we, as followers of Christ are to renew our mind in order to not be conformed to the world, he set out as reminders what passages would be valuable.

Who – It is important to remember who is it we adore. Who it is we serve. Who it is we love.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” Isaiah 42:1-4

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Why – Because God is who He is; we are to live as He lived.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17
Good words to meditate on during this Advent season.

Celebration of Worship – Week 1

November 21, 2011

Visiting Houses of God – one Sunday at a time.

“Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together.” –Psalm 34:3 (NIV)

It only seemed fitting that the first Sunday in this Celebration of Worship series began with an adult Baptism service held at the church that I attend, Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. What happened during this part of the service always takes my breath away.
When it’s their turn, the celebrants enter the pool and take their position by the pastor. Each person is addressed by name and is asked if they understand what God did when He sent his son, Jesus, to die for their sins; if they acknowledge Him to be Lord and savior and the leader of their life. When the celebrant says “yes”, they are slowly lowered into the baptismal water, only to rise upward and take their first breath – forgiven and redeemed.

All the while, we, the congregation, are standing and singing such praise songs as “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” and “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a holy moment. One hundred and fifty redeemed souls. People of all ages and ethnicities were baptized this day. Equally thrilling to witness were young people being baptized in groups of three or four. At one point four young men of different ethnicities were standing beside the pastor together, arms locked shoulder to shoulder so they could be lowered into the water together. The look on their faces when they emerged was — pure joy. God is still in the business of changing lives. All the while I’m singing through tears of joy.

Next, when the offering was taken, it was done by a woman on staff in the Compassion and Justice ministries who conveyed her experience of witness the offering being taken while visiting a church in Malawi two weeks earlier. “When the offering was received” she said, “everyone participated.” “Those who had coins, gave coins’ those who did not have and money gave what they could. When she looked inside the offering basket, one had given a small bag of rice, another gave a pouch of grain and one woman gave two eggs laid gently on the bottom of the offering basket; a powerful example of the celebration of giving.” Worship – because every gift matters.

When it came time for the message, Bill Hybels, the founding pastor of WCCC, taught on his favorite Psalm…Psalm 34.

Some highlights in his teaching were exemplified from the following verses:

“Tame the tongue, turn from evil, seek peace and pursue it.” — Ps 34:22
“Some of us are looking forward to a Thanksgiving meal with family; some of which we’re at odds with. Pursue peace.”

“The Lord is close to those who are brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –34:18
He explained that times of trouble, loss, grief, pain…these times trouble will surely come. Rely on this verse.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” –Ps 34:8
He explained that in this verse he imagines David imploring those who are far from God to experience God for themselves, as one who is about to partake in a great meal.

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” –Ps 34:1-2
He explained that this verse is about ‘why’ we worship; it’s not about ‘me’, it’s about God and wanting Him to hear our voice. True worshipers can know that cultivating a heart of gratitude is the foundation in understanding Grace.

The end of the service was marked by a request for the congregation to participate in packing 12,000 meals in boxes which were going to be distributed through our Care Center for the local community and throughout the northwest suburbs. Purposeful worship.

On my way home from church, I stopped off at the grocery store. While trying to find a parking space in the very crowded lot, I noticed an old woman with a cane in one hand and carrying bag of groceries in the other. She was taking one step at a time very slowly, very gingerly walking to her car while trying to keep her balance. I turned down the lane where she was and double parked, put my emergency brake lights on along with my emergency brake. I opened my door and walked up to the woman and asked, “Can I help you to your car?” She said, “Why yes, that would be nice, it’s so far away.” I said, “I’d be happy to give you a ride to your car.” “Oh” she said, “that would be wonderful.” She thanked me and we proceeded to her car.

Worshiping in the moment; I think God smiled.

The Courageously Hospitable Leader

October 18, 2011

Courage takes many forms — courage in battle, courage in business, courage in relationships. I’ll bet you’re wondering what courage has to do with hospitality. How can being hospitable, or for that matter, receiving hospitality by someone else lend itself to being a courageous leader?

Hospitality, in Abraham’s day, meant that offering hospitality was not an option. Being welcoming was expected. Similarly, being welcomed was expected as well. In Genesis we read, “The Lord appeared again to Abraham while he was living in the oak grove at Mamre. This is the way it happened: One hot summer afternoon as he was sitting at the opening of his tent, he suddenly noticed three men coming toward him. He sprang up to meet them and welcomed them.” “Sirs”, he said, “please don’t go any further. Stop a while and rest here in the shade of this tree while I get water to refresh your feet, and a bite to eat to strengthen you. Do stay awhile before continuing your journey.” “All right,” they said, “do as you have said.” Genesis 18:2-5 (NIV)

Hospitality in Action
Abraham sprang up. In other words, he was in a state of expectation which drove him to action in order to meet the needs of these traveling strangers. The act of being hospitable requires courage because you never know how your action will be responded to. Meeting another’s need for food and shelter was and still is one of the most immediate and practical ways to show obey God and do His will. It is also a time-honored relationship builder. It’s also a requirement for leadership in the church. Some key verses to ponder:

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 (NIV)
“Dear friend, you are doing a good work for God in taking care of the traveling teachers and missionaries who are passing through.” 3 John 1:5 (TLB)
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7 (NIV)

Ancient yet Contemporary Hospitality
Today more than ever, recovering the ancient practice of hospitality is one step toward becoming a more courageous leader. It even takes in good stewardship principles as well. Consider becoming part of a Christian Hospitality Network and practice hospitality. These networks offer a variety of ways of being able to connect with Christians who need hospitality.

Joy Along The Journey, a Worldwide Christian Hospitality Network, is gaining in popularity. Joy Along The Journey exists in order to make a way for Christian travelers to safely connect with other Christian hosts willing to offer short-term stays for a modest gratuity. If you’d like to learn more, go to their website or contact Karen has a passion for helping leaders reclaim the ancient practice of Christian Hospitality by becoming part of its worldwide Network of hosts. All it takes is a little courage and who knows you might ‘in so doing entertain angels’.

The Welcoming Church

September 26, 2011

People from all over the world define “Hospitality” in different ways. For instance, the word ‘billeting’ means to ‘assign quarter by a note or other directive’. The word ‘lodging’ means a room or rooms in the house of another used as a place of residence for a time.

While hotels are often linked with the word ‘lodging’, our houses can also be linked if only we open ourselves up to the blessings they provide for others and for us. The word, ‘hospitality’, could be more generally defined as, “the art of receiving another in your home for an hour, a day or longer”.

“I returned to Wimborne and reported back to the church that I felt that the conference had been the most significant conference that I have ever attended. I am now in a better place than ever to choose wisely between right and wrong in leadership matters. Thank the team to organized the hospitality for us. Magnificent!” –Rev Richard Tulloch, St. John’s Church, Wimborne

When your church becomes a place of welcome, brothers and sisters in Christ rejoice. Consider the words of the apostle John:

“Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” 3 John 5-6 (NIV)

Have you thought of starting a Hospitality Ministry? If your church receives visitors for any reason, the people of your church can benefit greatly in this life transforming activity. It’s a blessing for the Host as well as the Guest. All one needs is the willingness of people in the congregation to open their homes, their hearts and their lives for a brief period of time.

For more information on how to start a hospitality ministry in your church, contact Karen Frisella, President of Joy Along The Journey, LLC ( a Christian Hospitality Network provider. Karen directed the Hospitality Ministry for the Willow Creek Association for over ten years. She has a passion for helping other churches be a place of welcome to receive God’s people all over the world. Feel free to contact Karen at

Reflections on September 11 – Ten Years Later

September 12, 2011

I remember September 11th, like you, very clearly. At the time, I was a supervisor in a Call Center for the Willow Creek Association, an organization committed to producing resources and training events to church and lay leaders. In the Call Center, what was once a bee hive of activity came to a grinding halt the morning of September 11th….first shock, horror and then…prayerful silence.

The call center phones were eerily silent for about three hours, then, the phone rang. I looked at the light blinking on the phone and, turning my attention away from the television monitor in our office, I picked up a headset and took the call. The caller was a young man who, it turns out, was a priest from a Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey. He said he was calling to purchase several copies (about 30) of a book we published called “Becoming a Church of Small Groups” by Bill Donahue. “Why that resource?” I asked. He said, that “in light of today’s events it was going to be really important to train people in his church to become small group leaders and wanted to get that book as soon as possible”. We discussed what was happening around the country, in that, because of the events at the WTC, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, schools, universities and public buildings all across the country were closing….but church doors were remaining open. I felt compelled to close our conversation in prayer and he eagerly agreed. I remembered that I started praying for the obvious things; for the victims, that God would comfort their families and the first responders. But also for churches, and the people who lead them, for strength to be able to respond to the needs of the people. Then, he prayed… not only for those same things, but, in addition, he prayed for the perpetrators. Something, ashamedly, I was unable to do. It was a holy, unifying moment.

Irrespective of the country we live in, we have all been impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.

The events of September 11th, 2001 brought unity to the United States of America collectively and unity in our churches. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost that spirit of unity.

In the years that followed I directed a Hospitality (Host Home) Ministry for the Willow Creek Association and Willow Creek Community Church which sought to accommodate traveling church leaders when they visited Willow Creek. Countless thousands were blessed by that ministry.

So much so, in 2010 Joy Along The Journey, a Christian Hospitality Network was born. It’s designed for Christians who seek to be unifiers in the big “C” church and welcome brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of denomination. Host Home stay is such an enriching experience – everyone should try it.

Yes. The next time you travel you can approach a front desk again, be handed a key to a room which amounts to nothing more than a box and a Gideon’s Bible. Or, you can choose to stay in a lovely Christian Host Home the next time you travel (or become a Host yourself) and taste and see that the spirit of unity and community still reigns in the hearts and minds of Christ’s church.

Joy Along The Journey members provide host home stay (3 days) to traveling Christians when they travel for conferences, workshops, events, non-profit business or simply visiting another church. Designed to be a cost saving mechanism for traveling Christians. Hosts are provided a nightly lodging gratuity.

We’re looking for great Hosts to fill our Network. For more information visit

A Bed and a Table, a Chair and a Lamp

August 28, 2011

Room preparers. The Old and New Testament are full of stories of people who practiced hospitality. In 2 Kings there is a story of a well-to-do woman of Shunem who offered the prophet Elisha hospitality. “She said to her husband, I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” 2 Kings 4:9-10

Likewise in Romans 12:13 Paul instructs believers “to pursue or practice hospitality.” He urged the believers to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed them.” Romans 15:7

Hospitality was a way of life fundamental to Christian identity. Its mysteries and riches are revealed most fully when it is practiced.

I believe that it is a gift from God to be counted among those who cultivate ‘room preparedness’. In Biblical times untold amounts of ministry had been done because people (no matter their status in life) availed themselves to others and practiced hospitality. Room preparers offered their space without fan fare or expecting praise simply because it was the natural thing to do. The Gospel spread, churches grew in strength and number – all because ‘room preparers’ expectantly waited for a guest in need.

This ancient practice is being replicated today in order to advance Kingdom efforts for churches, conferences, non-profit business, the arts, etc.

Today, Joy Along The Journey, a Christian Hospitality Network, is one example of contemporary practitioners of hospitality. Providing hospitality has its challenges, but Joy Along The Journey was borne out a ministry in a local church. Its mission is to safely and securely connect hospitable Christians with Christians who travel – usually for ministry purposes.

As Christine Pohl states in her book “Making Room”, “In God’s remarkable economy as we make room for hospitality, more room becomes available to us for life, hope and grace. The most potent setting for hospitality, she adds, is in the overlap of private and public space; hospitality flourishes at the intersection of the personal, intimate characteristics of the home and the transforming expectations of the church. Practioners view hospitality as a sacred practice and find God is specially present in guest/host relationships. There is a mutual blessing in hospitality.

Everyday Christians who recover this lost art will find untold joy in welcoming and being welcomed by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and it all simply starts with a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp.

Your True Mission

June 27, 2011

My mission, plain and simple is practicing hospitality. In reflecting on my mission, I re-read one of my favorite authors. He said it best. “Vocation comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a man is called to by God. There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of society, say, or the super-ego, or self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work that (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a) but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b) but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Taken from Listening to Your Life, daily meditations with Frederick Buechner. Read more…

The Elevator Ride

June 15, 2011

On my way to a class I took at a local Christian University, I was joined at the elevator station by a gentleman who was carrying a Bible in his hand and on top of it a wooden cross. It caught my eye because the wooden cross was rather large and about the same dimension of the Bible. As I was the first to reach and enter the elevator I asked this gentleman, “going up?” He replied, “Actually, yes”. What seemed like an eternity, knowing my time with him would be brief as we were both getting out on the third floor, I asked, looking at him and then at his Bible, “how fast?” He chuckled and said, “Well, not that fast…but I hope to eventually get there!”

“Me too”, I said, as we both laughed as we both exited the elevator.

Isn’t that the truth! We long for Heaven, but not right away, for there are too many things to do, too many things to learn, too many things to start, too many things to bring to an end. But isn’t heaven what we all strive for? But just not today – not this minute. Read more…