“Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, Pure and holy, tried and true,With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, Sanctuary for You.” —-“Sanctuary”, by Randy Scruggs & John Thompson
It is one of the most basic and common gestures … especially in church. And act of humility … an act of forgiveness … and act of vulnerability … the act of kneeling. It wasn’t so much the act itself that captivated me, as it was the place. I was in church, but not in traditional worship where people regularly kneel at the altar rail to receive communion. I was leading worship in our New Day service. The person I noticed kneeling had just received Holy Communion and instead of walking back to her seat in the congregation, she walked up to the front of the raised platform on which the praise band sets up shop, and knelt right on the floor for a moment of private prayer. The area she faced as she knelt used to be filled with choir pews, an old Moller organ, and a communion rail and altar. It was our former chancel area prior to our 2005 building expansion. The person kneeling has not been a church member long enough to remember the Family Life Center as a church sanctuary whose colonial architecture conveyed the kind of traditional Protestant worship setting so typical in this part of the country in the 18th and 19th centuries. But that did not matter one iota …
… because the person’s posture and spirit had created her own sanctuary … her own space into which God poured out God’s holy presence. I was struck by the simple beauty of it. I was humbled by the transformation of an ordinary patch of floor space into a holy temple. Admittedly, my senses were more attuned to the presence of holiness because I was in church. But I wasn’t really expecting the floor to be the place I would witness it. It was humbling and beautiful, simple and yet exquisite.
And it gave me pause. It invited me to ponder other places in the world where God steps into “ordinary” space and transforms it into holy ground … A young girl kneeling in the middle of a patch of green grass caressing the tiniest lawn violet between her two fingers … A middle-aged man pausing to catch his breath in the middle of an afternoon jog, who lifts his face up to the rays of sun that have just broken through the morning cloud cover … A mother of three, cradling her youngest infant child in the crook of her arm, while she traces with her finger the beauty of that child’s forehead, nose and lips … A high school couple standing in line at the coffee shop, waiting for their java, but drinking up the more potent elixir of each other’s countenance. Our great God is everywhere … we all know this. But occasionally, God breaks into our world in ways that transforms our flesh and blood into the holy sanctuaries he creates for us … the holy sanctuaries he creates out of us.