When we think of sanctuary, we think of safe space; one where we might find peace. Sanctuary is a place where we can take refuge from all that surrounds us. Within the church, we have several perceptions of sanctuary and where it can be realized. For some, sanctuary is that place near or at the altar. It is the Holy of Holies, the place where God resides. Others speak of sanctuary as being that place where God meets us for worship. No matter your definition, and regardless whether you are taking refuge from some source of anxiety or seeking peace, sanctuary is always found upon holy ground.
Think of sanctuary as being that quiet place where we draw close to God. It’s the most intimate setting, found deep within the safe confines of our heart. Through scripture and prayer we are able to retreat to this safe space. In our mind, quieted by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can begin to envision a room filled with holy relics and images.
Imagine the walls of your safe space decorated with images such as Christ our Good Shepherd, Jesus welcoming the little children and Jesus calming the storm. Fill this room within your heart with visions of stained glass and icons of faith. Soon you will feel the peace and power of God’s presence. Such is the comforting hope of sanctuary.
Our world is filled with powers that defy God, temptations that work against all that we believe is good and proper. As we continue the struggle of living faithfully within a broken world, it is good to take refuge in Christ our Lord. Continually seeking the richness of God’s kingdom, soon we ourselves become living sanctuary for those who do not know the power of God. Invite them in. Help them find rest and respite from all the world’s distractions. Assist them also in seeking the peaceful sanctuary of God’s love. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard the hearts and minds of the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Photo: Chancel at St. Matthew Lutheran Church – Charleston, SC