Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sanctuary

I am the art teacher in a small church based school.  The church has been in the community for probably 75 years or more.  It is a conglomeration of an older and newer building merged into one facility and has lots of interesting twists and turns. I had a few minutes before I was supposed to be in the basement working with the first graders.  My chosen route led me  past the open sanctuary doors and I slipped inside.  The light streamed through the stained glass windows in the quietness of those few moments.  This is a precious place where the elements of communion have been served, vows of marriage have been uttered,  the gospel has gone forth, praises sung to our great God, the Word of God  read and where many tears of sorrow have followed a casket down the aisle.  It is a holy place.

In the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, God instructed the children of Israel to make a sanctuary so that He could be in their midst.

Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.

The instructions were given and the tabernacle was constructed.  God dwelt among His people in that holy place if they followed the stringent regulations and restrictions for meeting with Him.

 As the time drew near, more and more of God's prophets spoke of the coming of a special One.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall give birth to a son.  They shall call his name Immanuel"; which is, being interpreted, "God with us."


Jesus came into the world as a baby. He fulfilled all of the prophesies foretold about Him in the scripture.  He lived a perfect sinless life and then He willing laid down His life to become our sin bearer.  God was satisfied that the price for our sin had been paid and Jesus was raised from the dead proving we could now be restored back into relationship with our Maker.




Jesus went back to be with His Father, but He did not leave us without a Helper.  The Spirit was sent to dwell in those who had been restored in their relationship with God the Father.  A restoration that comes about by faith in the person and work of Jesus the Christ and repentance demonstrated by a turning from our old way of life.  Now we are that dwelling place!!!  We are the temple of God.

Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in, which you have from God?

Our church buildings are set aside for the purposes of preaching, praying and sacred duties. They are true sanctuaries where we can turn away temporarily from the struggles of the world and have moments of worship and comfort in the presence of Jesus and the fellowship of His people.  This is a true blessing which we should not neglect.

 But even more so because the Spirit dwells in us, our lives should be a place where others can experience something of that sanctuary.  Out of us should flow rivers of living water that refresh and encourage those around us whether they are in the faith or not.  Joy, courage, peace, genuine love, compassion, forgiveness, hope, hospitality, and kindness should characterize our natures. People should believe that we are pulling for them and have their best interest at heart.

So often Christians are viewed as being mean spirited and critical. As the days grow longer and harder in a world that is more and more given over to evil, may all that are in the faith become that place of beauty, peace and rest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxB9VH3cCN4

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Glimpse





I awoke on November 1st to an inch of snow and no power.  I live in the South and it has been a hundred years since snow has come this early in the season. My husband built a fire in the fireplace and we lit candles. I fried some eggs in a cast iron skillet and David headed off to work.




 This was to be a full day and my time was premium.  We were hosting a bonfire that evening for our son's 25th birthday.  I had food that needed to go into the oven that was now dysfunctional without a source of power.

I headed into town to check on my mother in law.  Because of my time constraints, I had planned on skipping this weekly Saturday event but I altered my plans with my change in circumstances.  I stopped to get a strongly needed cup of coffee for me and a couple of ham biscuits for her.  I loved my ride in as I drove past rolled snow topped bales of hay dotting fields, wooded areas, farms and streams. The short lived snow highlighted the fall leaves and energized my soul. The dark bank of clouds were supplanted by a sultry bright blue that held promise of a precipitation free day.

 I spent a little time visiting with mother in law. I was able to finish the last of my shopping for the bonfire and head home in time to have lunch with my husband. By this time the power was back on and I was back in business.

We finished the preparation for the evening and soon guests began to arrive bringing their young energy and life.  The oldest in this group was only in their early 30's.  My husband and son headed out back to light the bonfire.  We had been piling it up for days and it was ready to ignite.  As the couples arrived the guys naturally gravitated to the fire while the gals headed inside to the warmth of the house.  The fire was ready and we carried out the food.
There was plenty of silliness and good nature-rd jokes.  Matt and Jon sang anything that came into their heads. Baby Josiah added a definite touch to the evening as he was lulled to sleep as his dad, Nick rocked his car seat with his foot. It was a great evening of fire, chicken wings, chili and hot dogs, hot apple cider, cheese cake and laughter. Family and friends are the best gifts that this world has to offer.  Blessed is the person who places a premium value on them.

There is beauty and abundance in life if you have the eyes to see them.  Sometimes they are in the smallest of vignettes like a six month old child being rocked to sleep by a bonfire, maybe a fleeting snow shower on brightly adorned fall leaves, or a cup of hot cider on a windy chilly night.  It might be something more significant like being able to spend some moments with the 82 year old matriarch of your family or the joy of being included in your grown son's birthday celebration and relish that same pleasure in his eyes that birthdays brought him in years gone by.

The world can be a cruel and ugly place. It seems that we look through a broken mirror and all of life seems marred and distorted by sin.   But as followers and believers in the One who is the perfection of beauty, that is not where we are to focus our minds.  Through the work of the Spirit we are able see past the contortion and glimpse the winsome things.


 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.