If you have children that have journeyed through Children Worship & Wonder at any point, they may recall this as a “Focus Shelf.” Sacred Space or Focus Shelf, no matter what you call it, or where you choose to keep it, it can help us to focus some time and space for God when life swirls around us. You are not trying to recreate the physical space you find at church because we know that is nearly impossible, but what we can recreate is the sanctuary of peace and calm you find in your community of faith.
Step 1: Choose a space in your home where you can set up your space for worship. Perhaps a small table or bookcase. Even just a small square of flat space with some natural light will be inviting to you in this time.
Step 2: Clear the space of its usual items. Even if you intend to use some of them in your sacred space, have a moment of beginning to honor this sacred space.
Step 3: Find items from around the house that have meaning to you, to place in your sacred space. Perhaps a cross, a Bible, a candle, other decorative items etc... Find items that will make this sacred space one in which you can worship the Divine. Perhaps something that reminds you of the world, or places you have traveled, as our global family is connected through this shared experience. Perhaps something else that reminds you of your specific community.
Step 4: Create your altar by covering your table with some sort of table covering; maybe a tablecloth, or scarf. The liturgical color for the Lenten season is purple, though that is not necessary if you do not have anything purple. The liturgical color for the coming Easter season is white.
Step 5: Arrange the items you gathered on your table/shelf, space the items out so that they spread across your table and enable you to engage with the space as you come to worship.
Step 6: Use candles and prayer to invite the presence of the Holy Spirit and mark your time spent in your sacred space as special.
Step 7: Set a special time each day to come to your sacred space to spend some time with God. You can do this as a family, or as an individual. In your sacred space, you can pray, sing, cry, scream, laugh, read scripture, sit quietly, listen to music, draw, etc... however you might need to experience the presence of Jesus that day, you can trust that God will meet you there in your sacred space just the way God meets you in the sanctuary at the church building.
Building sacred spaces was a common practice in the Old Testament for the Israelites (see Gen. 12:7; Exodus 17:14-15; Joshua 22:26-27) One of the first altars was built by Noah as a thanksgiving. Altars were built by Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, Moses, Joshua & Miriam. All of these our faithful ancestors lived before the temple was built so they had to meet with God, and worship outside of a building, finding sacred space outside of a physical place.
So friends, we are in good company.
Take heart in these days, as we meet with God in spaces that are unfamiliar, in online zoom meetings, on phone calls and across the information superhighway, I wholeheartedly believe that the Spirit of God is with us in these days as well, journeying with us, holding us close, spurring us onward, and keeping us together with grace, mercy, and love.
Many thanks to the Rev. Andrea Curry who started this conversation about Sacred Spaces!