Shekinah Glory




            It is happening again.  There is a bustle around the church.  We are busy putting up villages in Memorial hall, a small plastic tree in the hallway, Chrismons hung from a tree in the sanctuary, the planning for pageants and special holiday music.  The earth has revolved enough times to put us into the advent season.  This season will culminate in the extraordinarily ordinary event of childbirth.  This ordinary event is turned into the extraordinary by virtue in our hope in the incarnation.  This is not merely the belief that God is human, but that humanity is essential to divinity.  We incredibly share an equality with our messiah and that is our humanity.

            Last week I was struck by the Republican political debate on CNN.  It really surprised me that a word like “sanctuary” could be turned into such a despised and reviled term in our society to score political points.  How a truly life affirming and positive word of faith could be used with sneers and derision once again brings us to the inevitable conclusion that when individuals are dehumanized as commodities, groups to be feared or pitted against each we can bend even the most positive concept into something deranged and destructive. The divine must have thought that we needed a reminder during the beginning of this Christmas season that sanctuary is exactly what Mary and Joseph were looking for when the innkeeper opened that unsanitary stable for them to stay. 

            I remember the first Christmas Eve service that I attended where figurines of Mary and Joseph were paraded around the church’s sanctuary while a processional knocked on wood and pleaded for us to let them inside.  As they returned Mary and Joseph to the central Crèche I felt an internal twang of guilt.  As a conservative Evangelical I felt on the outside of this Roman Catholic service that I attended with an agnostic and homosexual male.  Although, it might have been partially because I knew that for different reason each of us were not included in the salvation which that particular congregation believed, on an even deeper level I knew it was because of my own intolerance.  Until I had begun practicing love for all of God’s humanity I could not let people like Mary and Joseph in for sanctuary. 

            Welcome of the stranger, hospitality to the outsider, love for our enemies and pushing for peace in the face of hatred, ignorance and violence are deeply engrained in the story of Christ’s birth.  What a positive message of acceptance we are entrusted with by our relationship to Jesus this season!   It is my hope that you find the sanctuary that you need from all the pressures and stresses during this season that threaten to dehumanize you.  Hopefully, in our community you might find the peace, mercy and strength that you need for the living of these days.   Happy Holiday and the beginning of the Advent season!

 photo by r0me0blu 


2 Comments so far
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The sacred nature of “Sanctuary” should remain a place of solitude and safety and of welcoming. This post reminds us of what we are called to do, to provide and to support. Even when there is no room at the Inn…

‘Sacred Space’ is an important aspect of my life, my marriage and my home. It is good to see you write about it. I believe in Sanctuary as we do here in Canada, we have provided ‘sanctuary’ to many.


Comment by jeremy

Thanks Jeremy. I really was sad to hear a few of the politicos treating these guests as less than human. No human is illegal.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

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