As I reflect on what to write, there is so much that comes to mind; and I’m finding it difficult to know where to start. So here goes.
The Praise and Worship Center (PWC) entered my life when I was going through some ambivalence about the Catholic Church. I hadn’t been to Mass in over a year and was feeling very unsettled. I was a cradle Catholic and had followed the dogma to the best of my ability all of my life. However, I remember learning at an early age if I were to bring a non-Catholic guest to Mass, s/he was not invited to partake in the Eucharist because s/he didn’t believe in the same way that I did. I never did understand how I was supposed to welcome a guest and not be allowed to invite her/him to fully participate.
This point of disagreement stayed with me all my life. A few years ago, as God’s perfect timing would have it, I had brunch with a couple of people that I knew from grade school, high school, and church during those school years in Phoenix. We had lost touch, and re-connected via social media. The conversation turned to our mutual admiration for a priest from that time, and one of my friends said something along the lines of, “I think he’s in the east valley somewhere.” When I asked whether she knew the name of the church, she said “Praise and Worship, I think?”
I went home, and soon after that brunch, good old Google helped me find this place that I now call home. PWC, find out what it means to me. This is truly a Holy Spirit-filled community. It’s a place where all really are welcome. We are invited to “go deeper” in our faith, unfettered by many of the rules and rituals that may have limited us in the past. Or, at least that is my experience.
We’re a relatively small church, but oh, the depth and richness to be found here is unparalleled. And there are quite a few opportunities on that road to experiencing spiritual depth, including: women’s ministry; men’s ministry; a wonderful lending library (yes, real, printed books!) of faith-based literature; monthly deacons’ retreats; adult education offerings (most Wednesday evenings); ministry to the homeless; opportunities to participate in small groups; a gift shop with an array of bibles from which to choose; committed staff and volunteers who go out of their way to live in service and love; and of course, the Sunday service with the indescribably wonderful musicians who bring the most beautiful music to life for us.
All that being said, it is what I/we make it. For me, these last two years have been a tremendous blessing and a spiritual rebirth. I am so grateful that God has led me to the Praise and Worship Center. I did ask why it took so long; and I trust that it has all been in God’s perfect timing. Maybe I had to feel adrift before I could really appreciate what it’s like to be spiritually anchored. Thank you to all of my family here for welcoming me home. I feel the transformation taking place, Praise God!