sanctuary [sangk-choo-er-ee] noun, plural sanctuaries.
- a sacred or holy place.
- Judaism: the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem; the holy of holies of these places of worship.
- an especially holy place in a temple or church.
- the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.
- 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.
- preserve. —Dictionary.com
Over the last few weeks an exciting brainstorm has been happening in our congregation over email and in face-to-face conversations. Many of you have offered delightful possibilities about how we might be known as a church in our newly defined ministry model.
The image for our ministry and the name called forth from that—which has the strongest energy and has taken the deepest root amongst you is being “Sanctuary.” This feels perfectly right to me as well. As we leave behind the bricks-and-mortar sanctuary and institutional/organizational structures in which we have worshiped and met and ministered for over 100 years—we are called to go out to create sanctuary where ever we go. As we carry the gospel into the world—we will express sanctuary when we tell the stories of our faith. As we meet people where they are and gather them together to serve others—we will express sanctuary through our giving and sharing. As we develop new ways of worship, study and forming faith through the internet and onsite programs—we will be the first sanctuary that some folk have ever experienced. As we humbly seek to love God and our neighbor as ourselves—our relationships will be sanctuary for those who are lonely, broken, grieving and in need. And as we experience all of these beautiful moments and connections—we will find sanctuary in our own hearts—sanctuary, that holy place, the presence of God.
This Sunday during outdoor worship at the Parsonage (105 Brooks Street, Medford) our worship will consider the image of sanctuary. Might this be our new church name? Sanctuary, UCC: A Faith Place For You And For Me.
With blessing and prayer and a new found courage, Rev, Wendy (firstname.lastname@example.org)