Creating Space

She always got to church early. She always sat in the same place. The exact same place. There were Sunday School classes going on where she could have been with her friends, but she would quietly decline and sit in her pew. She did this every Sunday. Regardless of the season or the weather, I could always count on her being there. Same place. Same time.

One morning as I was setting up for the worship service, I teased her about always sitting in the same place. She sighed and looked down. It was a few minutes before she looked back at me.

“I guess it’s silly,” she said. “But this is where I sat the first Sunday after my husband died. I was so scared, and I felt so alone. I didn’t know what else to do. So, I just came to church and I sat right here.”

“And right here, Jesus told me I was going to be alright.” Then she smiled, “I keep coming back every Sunday and He reminds me.”

I felt like taking off my shoes because I knew I was standing on holy ground. A little piece of heaven in that county seat church where a dear saint would show up every Sunday…and God would too, and the two of them would talk.

Sacred space. A place where I know God is near. A place where, if I can just get there, I can rediscover what is holy and sacred and good and right.

One of the challenges of the pandemic is we’ve been forced to rethink our understanding of space. We were sent home from our offices and schools. We couldn’t go shopping or to our gyms. We were doing everything from home. We were going to school online. We were working from bedrooms and kitchen tables on our laptops. We ordered everything online. Groceries and office supplies, clothes and pet care products were all stacked up by our front doors in familiar cardboard boxes.

We even went to church online. Or rather, let me say, we watched worship services online. We watched our musicians perform our favorite music. We watched our pastors teach from familiar passages. Some churches had top level video production values with camera fades and flying graphics while others were simply taped using a cell phone on a stand in the back of the sanctuary.

Those people who watched online came away with mixed reviews. Some let me know how much they enjoyed watching church sitting on their couch in their pajamas drinking their morning coffee. Although I’m not sure it’s “going to church”, or anywhere for that matter, if you don’t bother to get dressed.

Others have told me they hated it. Watching church isn’t the same as going to church. They miss seeing their friends. They miss hearing the music and listening to the sermon. They missed sitting quietly together to pray. They missed their community.

Some will say space isn’t important. We can live our lives from wherever we are using the world wide web to connect to whomever we need to talk with and find whatever we’re looking for. These people remind me of all of my church members who tell me since God is everywhere, they can worship sitting in a duck blind or deer stand or walking eighteen holes of golf.

Yes, the good news is God is everywhere. It’s also good news God is somewhere. Place is important to God. After all, the first thing God created was space. One of the ways to understand the purpose of creation is God made a place where the conversation between Himself and humanity could happen. Creation is a place where God is.

And when God shows up, that space becomes sacred. Mt. Sinai, Bethel, a stable in Bethlehem, a hill outside Jerusalem, a tomb where His body was laid, all of these places were just places until God showed up. Then, these places became sacred. Places where, if we stood there, we could be closer to God.

While the pandemic has forced us to think differently about space, we’ve also learned to appreciate space. People actually miss going to their offices. Well, OK, they don’t miss their offices, they miss seeing their colleagues. They miss the energy that comes from working together on a project.

And we’ve missed going to church. We’ve missed seeing our friends. We’ve missed hearing the church sing. We’ve missed the laughter of children and the stories of old saints.

We missed the community. We missed the people. Jesus promised if two or three are gathering in His name, that’s sacred space. You can’t do church anywhere. You may can worship anywhere, but these are fleeting moments of awe that don’t last without the affirmation and confirmation of God’s community.

But you can’t do church anywhere. You can only do church where God’s people are. That may be in a sanctuary, a store front or the kitchen table of someone’s home. Wherever God’s people are, God Himself shows up and space becomes sacred.

Place does matter. Place is important. Place is where life happens. Place is where love happens. Just as God created place in the beginning, through His Spirit, the same Spirit that brooded over the original creation, now broods over our places creating sacred spaces in our lives.

God has given us the power to create space. We can make places that echo the original intent of creation itself – places where the Divine and humanity meet. The place is wherever the community of God is for He has promised to be in the same place.God has given us the power to create space. We can make places that echo the original intent of creation itself – places where the Divine and humanity meet. The place is wherever the community of God is for He has promised to be in the same place.

This place, we tell the world, is where we met God, and we invite them to step aside and join us. Perhaps, they will meet God there as well.

Creating Space

She always got to church early. She always sat in the same place. The exact same place. There were Sunday School classes going on where she could have been with her friends, but she would quietly decline and sit in her pew. She did this every Sunday. Regardless of the season or the weather, I could always count on her being there. Same place. Same time.

One morning as I was setting up for the worship service, I teased her about always sitting in the same place. She sighed and looked down. It was a few minutes before she looked back at me.

“I guess it’s silly,” she said. “But this is where I sat the first Sunday after my husband died. I was so scared, and I felt so alone. I didn’t know what else to do. So, I just came to church and I sat right here.”

“And right here, Jesus told me I was going to be alright.” Then she smiled, “I keep coming back every Sunday and He reminds me.”

I felt like taking off my shoes because I knew I was standing on holy ground. A little piece of heaven in that county seat church where a dear saint would show up every Sunday…and God would too, and the two of them would talk.

Sacred space. A place where I know God is near. A place where, if I can just get there, I can rediscover what is holy and sacred and good and right.

One of the challenges of the pandemic is we’ve been forced to rethink our understanding of space. We were sent home from our offices and schools. We couldn’t go shopping or to our gyms. We were doing everything from home. We were going to school online. We were working from bedrooms and kitchen tables on our laptops. We ordered everything online. Groceries and office supplies, clothes and pet care products were all stacked up by our front doors in familiar cardboard boxes.

We even went to church online. Or rather, let me say, we watched worship services online. We watched our musicians perform our favorite music. We watched our pastors teach from familiar passages. Some churches had top level video production values with camera fades and flying graphics while others were simply taped using a cell phone on a stand in the back of the sanctuary.

Those people who watched online came away with mixed reviews. Some let me know how much they enjoyed watching church sitting on their couch in their pajamas drinking their morning coffee. Although I’m not sure it’s “going to church”, or anywhere for that matter, if you don’t bother to get dressed.

Others have told me they hated it. Watching church isn’t the same as going to church. They miss seeing their friends. They miss hearing the music and listening to the sermon. They missed sitting quietly together to pray. They missed their community.

Some will say space isn’t important. We can live our lives from wherever we are using the world wide web to connect to whomever we need to talk with and find whatever we’re looking for. These people remind me of all of my church members who tell me since God is everywhere, they can worship sitting in a duck blind or deer stand or walking eighteen holes of golf.

Yes, the good news is God is everywhere. It’s also good news God is somewhere. Place is important to God. After all, the first thing God created was space. One of the ways to understand the purpose of creation is God made a place where the conversation between Himself and humanity could happen. Creation is a place where God is.

And when God shows up, that space becomes sacred. Mt. Sinai, Bethel, a stable in Bethlehem, a hill outside Jerusalem, a tomb where His body was laid, all of these places were just places until God showed up. Then, these places became sacred. Places where, if we stood there, we could be closer to God.

While the pandemic has forced us to think differently about space, we’ve also learned to appreciate space. People actually miss going to their offices. Well, OK, they don’t miss their offices, they miss seeing their colleagues. They miss the energy that comes from working together on a project.

And we’ve missed going to church. We’ve missed seeing our friends. We’ve missed hearing the church sing. We’ve missed the laughter of children and the stories of old saints.

We missed the community. We missed the people. Jesus promised if two or three are gathering in His name, that’s sacred space. You can’t do church anywhere. You may can worship anywhere, but these are fleeting moments of awe that don’t last without the affirmation and confirmation of God’s community.

But you can’t do church anywhere. You can only do church where God’s people are. That may be in a sanctuary, a store front or the kitchen table of someone’s home. Wherever God’s people are, God Himself shows up and space becomes sacred.

Place does matter. Place is important. Place is where life happens. Place is where love happens. Just as God created place in the beginning, through His Spirit, the same Spirit that brooded over the original creation, now broods over our places creating sacred spaces in our lives.

God has given us the power to create space. We can make places that echo the original intent of creation itself – places where the Divine and humanity meet. The place is wherever the community of God is for He has promised to be in the same place.

This place, we tell the world, is where we met God, and we invite them to step aside and join us. Perhaps, they will meet God there as well.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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