We live in such a hectic world that everyone yearns for a place to go where they can experience a bit of rest. Even Jesus felt the need to withdraw from the multitudes every now and then in order to recharge his spirit so that he might give of himself even more to God’s mission.
Worship doesn’t require a special space for us to encounter God; Jesus’ example of experiencing God in the wilderness shows us that truth. But because space is important to us humans, from the earliest of times we have understood the importance of creating a “sacred space” so that we might not be distracted by the circumstances around us and be in a better position to attend to God. Hence we have chosen the word “sanctuary” to describe such a special place.
Our church has a most worshipful sanctuary. I say it intentionally in those terms because of my belief that while “beautiful” is not a bad word, when it comes to sanctuary “worshipful” is a better one. You know from your own experience how there have been those times when you’ve felt drawn to our sanctuary just to sit, be still, and know God. The grandeur of the space reminds us of the greatness of our God and the very air at times seems charged with the presence of the holy.
So, I’m indebted to those faithful souls who 50 years ago, saw the need to provide our church with such a soul-lifting space. Their planning actually began in August of 1965, and the original construction contract awarded on September 19 of that year. But the actual construction took 18 months, so that the cornerstone of our present sanctuary was laid on March 12, and our first worship service in it was held on March 26, 1967, which that year was Easter Sunday.
Easter won’t be observed for another four weeks, and unfortunately this “Anniversary” Sunday will be the start of the Spring Break, with a number of our families out of town, which will include my family. But if you’re in town, make it a point to come to worship and if your preferred worship option is the traditional service, come early and spend a few moments in reflective gratitude for the vision and commitment of our forbearers. Seek out Buck Weaver, the only living member of that original Sanctuary Building Committee from the 60’s, and express your thankfulness to him for his good work. If you’re away, as I’ll be, say a prayer for our church’s worship and offer your own heartfelt expression for how blessed we are to have such an awe-provoking sanctuary. While God is certainly not bound to any geographic location, we rejoice in how He continually makes His presence known in our sanctuary and how, because He does, our church is always better for it. As the great church father Augustine reminds us: “Thou hast formed us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
“Let them construct a Sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8).