Maintaining Sacred Space

Scripture Focus: Numbers 4.47-49
47 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the tent of meeting 48 numbered 8,580. 49 At the Lord’s command through Moses, each was assigned his work and told what to carry. 

Reflection: Maintaining Sacred Space
By John Tillman

All across the United States, and in places around the world, God’s people worship in rented or temporary spaces. They worship under the open sky. They worship in tents. They worship in rented theaters, schools, or hotel conference rooms. They worship in private residences.

Church workers and volunteers in these mobile churches can uniquely identify with the tasks described in preparing the Tabernacle to move to a new place. The tools and equipment related to each other are packed up together. You’ll never have to go looking for batteries for the lapel microphones, because they are packed in the storage tub with the microphones. You’ll never have to look for a mallet to stake down a welcome tent, because it is packed in with the stakes and the tent.

This labor may seem at first to be all a matter of having a strong back, stout limbs, and a careful checklist. However, like the work done by the tribes who packed and carried the Tabernacle, this work is holy work which makes holy space for people to encounter a holy God.

The Tabernacle is made after the pattern of the heavenly Temple which Moses sees on the mountain. It is filled with artwork representing it as an artificial Garden of Eden where God once again meets with humans. Making sacred space where humans and God can interact is a priestly duty. It is also one each believer bears today.

Our bodies are our “tents” into which we invite the Holy Spirit of God, promised to us by Jesus. They are temporary, holy vessels in which we are united in Christ and united to God. Peter calls the church a Temple of living stones. Paul calls us members of the body of Christ.

Through spiritual disciplines and practices, we maintain and carry with us sacred space. Prayer, Bible reading, meditation, intercession, are our tabernacle walls, frames, and sacred tools. We can access this sacred space wherever we go. In our priestly role, we can invite others into this sacred space as well, allowing them to encounter and experience God through us.

How are you preparing to make sacred space for yourself? In your schedule? In your home? In your work life?

How are you preparing to make sacred space for others, inviting them to encounter God through you?

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “In all truth I tell you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me.” — John 13.20

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Numbers 4 (Listen – 6:11)
Psalms 38 (Listen – 2:14)

Read more about Christ our Temple, River, and City
Christ himself is our temple. He is the gate, the doorway, through which we enter to worship.

Read more about Intimidating, Liberating Glory
We have the accounts of those who touched with their hands and saw with their eyes the tender, loving, human tabernacle of Jesus.

Prayer Amidst Evil :: Guided Prayer

Psalm 37.7
Be still before the Lord
   and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
   when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Reflection: Prayer Amidst Evil :: Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

As we celebrate the Easter season, we seek to continue to “throw our hats in the air” in celebration of the victory won by Christ. Yet we still sojourn in a sin-scarred world, filled with loss, sorrow, and pain.

We grieve this week with Christian brothers and sisters across our world. We lift up the burned churches in Louisiana, the burned cathedral of Notre Dame, the bombed churches of Sri Lanka, and the churches of Nigeria whose members are being gunned down in violent attacks. These are our churches, too, for we are one in Christ.

Christ promised we would have trouble in this world, and many people are willing to aid that promise coming true. The world’s powers and governments, in vain, promise us that they can prevent future suffering. But in Christ’s promise we know that until he comes to end this world and begin the next, there will always be a “next time.” Often the perpetrators of “next time” will be the very governments who, in the name of protection, ask for our unwavering support and pressure us to yield to them unrestricted power.

The inevitable next tragedy will come. Whether it is the result of unthinking violence, tragic accident, or premeditated and targeted hatred, we turn to God in prayer, trusting that in past, present, and future sufferings, his grace is sufficient for us.

Prayer Amidst Evil
Lord, we come mourning.
Our eyes flow with tears and our hearts bleed
On behalf of our brothers and sisters.

Be still before the Lord
   and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
   when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Lord, when we suffer…
When our houses of worship are burned
When our sanctuaries flow with bloodshed
When our fellowship is disrupted by violent killers
May we turn to you.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
   do not fret—it leads only to evil…
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
   though you look for them, they will not be found.
The Lord laughs at the wicked,
   for he knows their day is coming.

We don’t need vengeance, Lord.
Vengeance belongs to you.
We don’t need worldly power, Lord.
Yours is the power we need.
We don’t need violent reprisals, Lord.
Repentance and revival is needed.

Work in us, to bring this to pass.
Pass by us, and call us to follow.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 3 (Listen – 6:01) 
Psalm 37 (Listen – 4:21)

This Weekend’s Readings
Numbers 4 (Listen – 6:11) Psalm 38 (Listen – 2:14)
Numbers 5 (Listen – 4:39) Psalm 39 (Listen – 1:49)

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Read more about Truth Unwanted :: A Guided Prayer
Making Jesus known will lead to suffering and rejection. As the world investigates Jesus in our lives, we can expect the same treatment that Jesus received. May we do so, knowing that he is with us in all our suffering.

Read more about The Prayer From the Cross
Join Christ in his suffering, praying excerpts from this psalm prayed on the cross, ending with excerpts from Psalm 30 from our reading for today.