A sanctuary is a sacred space. It is set apart for holy and life giving purposes. The psalmists often yearn to enter the sanctuary to worship God in his holy presence (Psalm 122). While Jonah is in the belly of the great fish—as he is attempting to flee God’s presence—he ironically sets his heart upon the sanctuary of God and finds comfort in the rest associated with being in God’s presence (Jonah 2).
The sanctuary is a place where people enter and experience something greater than the world has to offer. The sanctuary offers what no restaurant, state park, concert hall, pub, or even one’s own home could ever offer. Not even the baseball stadium can provide what the sanctuary of God offers. Though the Bible tells us that there is no place on earth we can go and escape the presence of God (Psalm 139), God’s people regularly enter into the sanctuary to pray, worship, hear the gospel, participate in receiving the gifts of communion and baptism, and to encourage fellow saints as we live in communio sanctorum.
The sanctuary is more than just a room with pews, a table, a few instruments, and lecterns. It is a dwelling place that tells the larger story of God’s activity in the world. The sanctuary gives a lens by which we see the world. As we observe the grace of God in sunrises and sunsets, by seeing majestic mountain ranges and breathtaking ocean fronts, in everywhere and every time in between, it is the sanctuary of God where we are reminded of the one who made the beauty of the world. It is the place where—during times of conflict, tragedy, and uncertainty—we are reminded of the ever-present and never-forsaking God and his sovereign providence over all creation.
When we enter the sanctuary, we must be focused on the promise of God for us. As Paul asks in Romans 8, “If God is for us, who could be against us?” From the wooden pew to the communion table, from the baptismal font to the pulpit, we are called to see the Word made flesh in Jesus. We are called to witness the salvation given us in Christ by faithfully pointing others to him.
Over the next few weeks, Pastor Sherrad and I will be reflecting on the various features of our sanctuary at Homewood CPC. Hopefully, these reflections will remind each of us of the ever-present and never-failing God who acted in Jesus Christ to bring us salvation and faith in every season of our lives. May we rejoice together. May we be reminded of the promise of God to us in Jesus Christ that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). May we know we are forgiven in Christ alone. May we live boldly in the service of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And may we rejoice when we see others come to know Christ and worship alongside the communio sanctorum in this sacred space. Amen.
Together in Christ,