Are you aware that one of Texas’ most beautiful worship sanctuaries is located nearby? In fact, Trip Advisor ranks it as one of the three most popular attractions in Fredericksburg, the tourism center of The Texas Hill Country.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church is known as a Painted Church because of its elaborate interior painting that creates an extravagant faux-finished sanctuary. Dedicated in 1908, St. Mary’s displays old world craftsmanship with pre World War I stained glass windows made in Germany. The beauty of the pre-war glass is unsurpassed and surrounded with the bright colors, gothic relief and bountiful biblical scenes so that visitors’ hearts are immediately transformed towards worship.
What caused the German settlers of Fredericksburg to create such an elaborate and extravagant house of worship? Likely it was a physical and spiritual hunger by the immigrants to enjoy their old-world worship ways in their new-world home in Texas.
St. Mary’s uses special aspects of interior design like surprisingly bright colors with gold leaf detail to create an environment for worshiping God. In essence they built a place to convey to our eyes a pleasure for entering worship by drawing our hearts towards joy and hope. Pleasure, joy and hope also describe the attitudes of heart described in Psalm 118:24. A majestic verse in a Psalm of praise, “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Pastor Joel Osteen says, “Every day that we are given is a precious gift from Almighty God. We should wake up every morning with a grateful attitude, full of faith and expectancy for what the Lord has in store. Sure, you may be facing some challenges in your life, or maybe things aren’t going the way you planned. But remember, each new day is a chance to stand strong in the midst of adversity and see the faithfulness of God. Every new day is an opportunity to praise and thank Him, to magnify your God instead of magnifying your problems.”
Magnifying God is what the German settlers did so magnificently through their painted Church. Perhaps, St. Mary’s was a powerful reminder to them that true joy is never dependent on circumstances. They learned to choose exultation even in hard times to be assured that in His grace, God made every day as a gift so that we can “rejoice and be glad in it.”
God created us to live in a loving relationship with him. Until we find that relationship, there will always be something missing in our lives. God wants each of His children to find fulfillment and purpose in their personal relationship with Him. That is why worship of God is important to our lives and the backbone message of Psalm 118. Faithful worship is what matters most of all. God is faithful to you. He calls us to be faithful to Him.
Psalm 118 was a favorite of Protestant leader Martin Luther who said, “It is nearest to my heart. It has saved me from many a pressing danger from which neither emperors, sages or saints could have saved me.
It is a friend dearer to me than all the honors and power on earth.”
Jesus choose to sing Psalm 118 with His Disciples in preparation for going forth to the Mount of Olives after The Last Supper. What a testimony that Jesus would choose to sing this Psalm of praise as He was preparing to endure suffering at the hands of Roman Soldiers on His way to the Cross. Suggesting that praising God, even when our breakthroughs have not arrived, is our offering which becomes an access point to God’s amazing presence.
These verses encourage us to recognize that every new-day is a precious gift from our God. Each day serves as an invitation to express ourselves in thanksgiving, praise and worship to Him. Perhaps, the magnificent display of pleasure, joy and hope in God that is expressed within St. Mary’s Sanctuary will serve as a visual reminder to each of us that God’s doors are always open for worshippers.
“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” is our personal invitation to enter God’s gates daily to magnify our Creator with our worship.
Prayer: Father, today we choose to rejoice in You. May each of Your children find fulfillment by seeking and developing a personal relationship with You. This is the day You have made and we are glad that You promised to make a way even where there seems to be no way! Thank You for the pleasure, joy and hope that comes when we express ourselves as living sacrifices to You through worship. Amen
Jeff Anderson is servant pastor of SERV Kerrville, a nonprofit collaborating with community partners to empower lifelong learning. He can be reached at jeff@ServKerrville.com.