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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sanctuary

This morning I am thinking about the word sanctuary, and the various ways we use that word. “Our homes have become our sanctuaries” is a sentiment each of us can understand. Our homes have become places of retreat, of safety, and of peace from the busy world of work and pressure we may experience daily.

There is a popular Christian song, sung both in formal Sunday morning worship and around the campfire. It is a favorite of former CEM President, Ken Barrows. The lyrics are as follows.

Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary,
Pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving I’ll be a living
Sanctuary, Lord for you.

The song is beautiful, and I believe conveys the best of intentions; let my life be so in harmony with God that I can offer peace and safety to someone else.

Of the various explanations of sanctuary found in the dictionary, the ones I find the most enlightening read as follows.
- a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.
¨ immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.
¨ any place of refuge; asylum.

These definitions indicate sacred goals of offering peace and shelter to people whose lives are in crisis and need. As I reflect on this in my own experience, however, I have to ask who it is that is in my sanctuary? To whom am I offering a place of refuge? Sadly, I realize that most of the time, the only person seeking protection in the sanctuary of my life is me! It is me who retreats to a place of peace and security. It is me that goes into the house of my life, closes the door and locks it to keep intruders out. It is me who seeks safety and protection inside, and does not invite in others whose lives may be under siege.

Following the Rwandan genocide, Immaculée Ilibagiza wrote a remarkable volume entitled Left to Tell. She shares her own story, and that of a Christian pastor who, at enormous risk to himself and his family, offered sanctuary to a group of eight women by hiding them in a tiny bathroom for 91 days. It is a story of faith and courage in the face of enormous risk few if any of us will ever know.
May we come out of our personal sanctuaries today, and go to the places where people meet. May we open our hands and hearts to others, and offer the sanctuary of Christ’s Peace to those who really need it. We cannot do that if we remain cloistered inside our own personal space and not interact with those who need us. May we experience the generosity of extending grace, and may we begin today.

Posted by Carman

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