I’m writing this post from the middle of a large open room with a large bare floor. From my lone chair I’m overlooking newly painted concrete and cinderblock, drywall and metal rafters. I’m alone and it’s quiet; I’m keenly aware of the air conditioner moving around the lingering paint fumes. Every sound I make echoes across the the bare, hard surfaces, filling the place. I’m in what is about to turn into the new home of The Advent – my church. Tomorrow morning we’re going to ask God to bless these walls, this floor, our doorway, and a Table from which we’ll share life together. We have the space, and now it must be set apart, made holy.
Everything we’ve done with our new space in Kirkwood – from signing the lease, to building new walls, to adding security, to painting the floors, to cleaning the windows – has been utilitarian. It’s been about making the place capable of hosting a community. That’s all been important, no doubt, and will continue happening. But the time has come now to make this place something more than the sum of its parts. We take this seriously, because we recognize this is a common principle. It’s the most natural thing in the world to take something common and elevate it to the status of special. We do it with people all the time. The more special a relationship, the more we celebrate it – with weddings, and anniversaries, and nice restaurants. We do it with objects. We take vehicles and personalize them. We take animals and make them pets. We also do it with spaces. When you move into a new house, you decorate it, throw it a party, and even probably carry out little rituals to make it your own. We personalize our homes, our cubicles, and sometimes even our favorite booths at a restaurant.
We believe this is a part of our calling and design from God — to take the natural urge to elevate the status of that which is worthy around us, and instead of making it “our own,” give it to God. That, in a nutshell, is the Judeo-Christian definition of worship, by the way. That’s what our church is doing tomorrow with this humble space of ours. We’ll furnish it, put toys in the kids’ room, and make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible, all as ways of saying this space is worthy to facilitate the worship of God, the feeding of his people, and the guarding of souls in need of sanctuary. We’ll do all these things, but not on our own steam. We are specifically, intentionally, and in all humility asking our God, as a family, to bless the space itself and all our work, making this place holy. If we as humans make something our own, it becomes special. If we make something God’s, it becomes holy.
Everliving Father, watchful and caring, our source and our
end: All that we are and all that we have is yours. Accept us
now, as we dedicate this place to which we come to praise
your Name, to ask your forgiveness, to know your healing
power, to hear your Word, and to be nourished by the Body
and Blood of your Son. Be present always to guide and to
judge, to illuminate and to bless your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, make this a temple of your presence and a
house of prayer. Be always near us when we seek you in this
place. Draw us to you, when we come alone and when we
come with others, to find comfort and wisdom, to be supported
and strengthened, to rejoice and give thanks. May it be here,
Lord Christ, that we are made one with you and with one another, so that our lives are sustained and sanctified for your service.
Now, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sanctify this place; For everything in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; and you are exalted as head over all. Amen