Sanctuary

I have struggled this week with the question of what is sanctuary? We have examples of outer sanctuary a place in the Acts passage (Acts 1:6-14) and an inner one in John's passage (John 17:1-11). In Acts the disciples have returned again to the upper room. It is where they seek prayer and seek comfort amongst the last place they were with Jesus, the first place where they knew Jesus had risen from the dead. This has become their sanctuary, a place to be against all the storms of life.

This is what churches used to be and some churches still choose to be which is open for people to be able to come in and pray, to tell God their troubles, to seek shelter from the weather. Christ Cathedral in St. Louis does this by opening their doors to the homeless everyday. The people know they are welcome and when we have had events their with a continental breakfast they have joined us for coffee and something to eat. St. Luke's in Wilton decided that whenever there was turmoil our doors were open day and night for people to come and pray. These have been places of sanctuary, outer representations of the bigger whole.

This past month in the forgiveness challenge when we have meditations on forgiveness we have been asked by Mpho Tutu to go to our safe place, or picture a place where we are safe. I have pictured so many different places, a field, the stars all of these have been places of sanctuary. I think it is important to note where our places of sanctuary have been and where they might continue to be. We need those places of sanctuary to bring us to God. The disciples today stand round looking into the sky and the angels remind them they need to move, this is not their place of connection with Jesus. This is not the place to stand and pray, to stare into the skies with hopes of Jesus' return, instead it is the place that turns them back to the upper room the place of death and life.

See the inner sanctuary is built on prayer, on communing with God. John's gospel articulates this in "all mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them (John 17:10)."  Here Jesus is again trying to reassure the disciples by praying out loud to God for them. We all need to know we belong to God, it is our inner sanctuary. It makes us feel of worth in a world that doesn't always support that. We are God's and when we look for the outer representations of sanctuary we are looking for this connection, this place of inner sanctuary.

Our danger is getting to enthralled with this connection, like the disciples standing with their mouths agape because the we don't move into new ways of showing others the community of faith. By standing there the disciples can't pray with others, can't have the experience a few days later of the power from on high, or Holy Spirit. Movement through and around community is a part of sanctuary. May we be living sanctuaries of God's love to the world.