It is the Lord of heavenly forces whom you should hold sacred, whom you should fear, and whom you should hold in awe.
God will become a sanctuary— Isaiah 8:13-14a (CEB)
Sacred…I love that word. To me, it connotes something beautiful and holy–treasured–a connection with the divine. We each have our own definition of sacred; those special objects, places and rituals that connect us to something bigger than ourselves and our own little lives. Sacred is about connection.
The other day, I sat with my parents in an almost-empty parking lot and watched a giant mechanical claw carefully pull down and apart the sanctuary of my childhood church. It was fascinating, really, almost hypnotic. The mechanical claw was big and bulky, and yet, when it engaged in demolition, it seemed to do so with great gentleness and care. It’s like the machine somehow knew that, for many in the community, this was sacred ground.
This was the place where I first encountered the presence of God. This was the place where the foundations of my own spiritual relationships were laid. This was the place where people showed me what it looked like to live out the Gospel message. This was the place where family and friends connected, where lives were shared, where the souls of the faithful who had lived and worshipped before could still be felt joining in the great celebration of worship. This was sacred ground.
how easy it is to turn the sacred into an idol.
How easy it is to worship the places where divine encounters occurred rather than the living God who is present in our sacred moments.
How easy it is to bow down before our sacred mementos, trinkets, inheritances and forget that the spirit of those who built those objects, who erected those structures, are not held within them.
For the ancient Israelites, God was contained in the Tabernacle and Temple. But when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was ripped apart. The Spirit was unbound, unleashed, unharnessed. God moved out from the Temple (not that he was really bound there anyway) and redefined sacred.
Sacred was a field where shepherds heard the songs of the angels.
Sacred was a common water well where an outcast felt the grace, love and mercy of Jesus.
Sacred was a prison cell, where disciples shared the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Sacred was a cross–the most shameful symbol of death–that became a beacon of hope for the world.
Sacred is about divine connection, and that connection is not tied to a specific place or object. God, himself, is our sanctuary. When we give our hearts over to worship, he is our sacred space.
My childhood church is thriving. A new state of the art sanctuary has been built across town. There’s room for continued growth, and no fear that the entire structure might collapse at any given moment. The new building is sacred, because the people who worship within it have made God their sanctuary.
We carry the sacred moments of our past within us. They are part of who we are, as much as our bones, tendons and muscles. We grow from those moments and move forward with God to do his work.
This week, I challenge you to reflect on the sacred moments of your life. What places or objects are tied to those sacred moments? Give thanks for those moments. Give thanks for the people and situations that made those sacred moments possible. Then, consider ways in which God might be asking you to create a sacred moment for others.
Blessings and Peace,