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Posts Tagged ‘Sanctuary’

One of my favorite theologian’s name is Laverne.

She is female, I think. I do not know her age. I presume her to be Catholic. She is wise, and funny, and sarcastic (oh, how I do love sarcasm). She is not human. She is not even alive. She, my favorite theologian, is Laverne, one of the three gargoyles from the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (and the only one whose voice comes from a female).

Some of the things that she taught me are :

“… take it from an old spectator. Life’s not a spectator sport. If watchin’ is all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without ya.”

these (physical) chains aren’t what’s holding you back”

“We just thought maybe you were made of somethin’ stronger.”

“Fly, my pretties! Fly, fly!”

But my favorite teaching from Laverne the theologian was, “nobody wants to stay cooped up here forever.” She says this to the bell ringer, Quasimodo, who had spent his life being ‘safe’ in his cathedral tower. Inside the walls of the church he had all he needed. He had friends (the gargoyles), he had food, and clothes, and … sanctuary. He was protected from the evils outside of the walls of Notre Dame.

But, was he living? Was he fulfilling his purpose?

It was not until Quasimodo left the sanctuary of his bell tower that he could taste and see what life among the living was like. It was in learning to risk, and love and lose that he learned that he had something to bring to the world, beyond the safety of his church walls.

For me, this lesson is one that I want to hold on to. I too enjoy the sanctuary of my church. But, it is in my leaving this place of sanctuary, that I bring what I have, in Christ, to the world. If I stay ‘cooped up (at church) here forever’ I then am not allowing God to use me, as his vessel through which he might speak to those yet to choose life with him.

When we, who profess the Christian faith, surround ourselves with only those who share our belief system, we have forgotten the words of Jesus:

“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15

This is the great commission, this is our commissioning, from Jesus, to take his word, his light into the world … it is why we are here, our purpose.

So, I challenge those of you (and me) who find sanctuary in the walls of your cathedral, we can’t stay cooped up there forever.

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Sanctuary … a place, a way of thinking, which is safe, secure; a sacred place.

“Sanctuary!”

The word shouted out by Notre Dame Cathedral bell ringer, Quasimodo, after saving Esmeralda from certain death, at the hands of Archdeacon, Claude Frollo. He was declaring to all in the city that he was declaring safety for his most real human friend, within the sacred walls of Notre Dame.

Quasimodo knew that sanctuary could be found by entering into that sacred place.

There are many places that might be sanctuary-inducing …

  • Standing in the sand, at water’s edge, as the tide ebbs and flows right in front of us.
  • Hiking up a mountain trail, where only the sounds of the birds overhead, or the crunch of our shoes on the sticks, rocks and soil below our feet can be heard.
  • Sitting in the wooden pew, where we have sat our entire life … once with a spouse and rowdy children, on a Sunday morning.
  • Or (for someone in my life) sitting at a baseball stadium, eating a stadium frank, yelling at the umpire and cheering on the ‘good guys’.

” s a n c t u a r y “

Just last Friday, at school, I approached a young man … a young man of few words, who you feel honored when he is willing to share a few with you. I asked his plans for the two week spring break. He told me he would be working with his dad. He then asked what my plans were, and I listed refinishing furniture, painting and cleaning.

He looked at me and said, “so you’re working too.”

To which I responded, “yes …” I then paused, and grinned, “but, I don’t have to talk to anyone.”

He looked at me, with a grin growing across is face, a bright light shining from his eyes, “I don’t either.”

The word sanctuary that can be an experience, such as …

  • physical labor, with no need to talk.
  • reading a novel, cover to cover.
  • a meal with family or friends.
  • a shared experience with someone you love.
  • laying in bed, in the arms of someone who loves you.

Whatever sanctuary is for you, for me, I pray we might find that sacred place this day, this week, so that we might be revived and energized in a place of safety.

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I am not an expert in grammar, and that is no surprise to anyone who has ever read even one of my posts!

One thing I do know (not as a grammar expert, but as a Christian) is that worship is a verb, it is a ‘doing’ word. I’m not just making reference to my head knowledge of the word worship, but the knowledge that comes from living with a mind and body and heart and emotions that ‘do’, without conscious thought, when worshiping.

I love to go to concerts of Christian worship musicians, because they provide hours of opportunity to not just entertain the concert goers but also to participate in the worship they are leading. There is nothing that drives my inner worshipper more crazy than when church worship becomes entertainment, and I have to sit still while someone else is worshipping solo …

When I enter into a place of worship (my back garden, my kitchen, the beach, my bedroom, on my favorite trail, and even in a church sanctuary) I am often unnerved by how my inner self responds to what is around me. My senses drink in what I see, what I smell, what I taste, what I feel, and I am led into a spontaneous act of worship. I have no control on this happening, it is my insides wanting to burst out.

I feel a little about worship, like Olympic runner Eric Liddell said of running “when I worship (run) I feel His pleasure.” There is a connection to my Creator that is so deep, so innate in a way, that I have little to do with how I respond to the opportunity to worship.

And that opportunity is constant, and often surfaces without warning. As I have grown I have heard of people talking about preparing for worship, which is a good idea. It is not always easy to settle into worship when you’ve just arrived at church having had the equivalent of battle royale with your toddler to get their shoes on, or had a disagreement with your spouse (which of course NEVER happens in our house ;). But I find that most times when worship begins, the magnetic-like force within me pulls me into God’s presence, whether I am prepared or not. This happens not just in a church sanctuary, but some times when I am weeding, or taking a walk, or standing on a beach, or holding one of my loved ones.

J.I. Packer said, “we need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.”One cannot read the Psalms and not see and feel the joy that is being expressed.

Worship is an act of celebration, and whether we are participating in a room with hundreds of other worshippers or laying in our bed when we awaken and take a deep breath, it is a party worth celebrating!

“Worship leader George Beverly Shea kidded Billy Graham that the latter would be unemployed in Heaven — while Shea would still have a job leading worship.”

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