Today’s Bible readings can be found at this link: Psalm 141:1-10 & Acts 21:1-14.

Psalm 141:2    “May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” (NIV)

In ancient Bible times, people used to stand before the altar in the Temple and raise their hands as they prayed to God. It was a beautiful way to focus on what needed to be expressed and the scent of the incense, along with the rising smoke, made the person praying feel assured that their words were being carried up to God in the heavens. The sanctuary, therefore, became a holy place of safety and security, as well as of hope and faith.

For most folks today, the loss of sanctuary is being keenly felt during this pandemic. That familiar and sacred space where we would gather to worship, as well as to pray, has been temporarily taken from us. It means that we’re left with a spiritual emptiness which cannot be filled with anything else. Some may say that the church building is not important, but that’s not true: sanctuaries have always been a part of our faith and it’s where we mostly encounter God’s presence with His gathered people. Like the psalmist of old, we need a sacred space where we can quietly sit or stand before God, expressing to Him our worries and issues, as well as our confessions and complaints.

Hopefully, one day soon, we can gather again as a people of God in our sanctuaries. After Thanksgiving, our own sanctuary will open during the week for church folks to drop in and quietly pray. The sacred space is still there; the holiness of God can still be found in that peaceful place which is dearly missed and fondly loved by all of us.

Point to ponder: What have been some of the most memorable experiences for me in the church sanctuary?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, even You found sanctuary in the synagogues You visited each Sabbath and the Temple that You attended during special feasts. We miss being together in our sanctuary, so please help us to find a safe and reassuring way to enter that dear holy place. In Your Sacred Name, we pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s psalm drawings based on Psalm 85. If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.