Fifth Sabbath of Easter
May 17, 2014
A sanctuary has been the answer for humans with three fundamental needs: safety, rest and divine communion. If you need protection from an enemy, you look for a place of sanctuary where you’re no longer in danger. If you are overwhelmed with a certain struggle or with the overall stress of life, you look for a sanctuary of quiet, calm and peace. If you are feeling isolated from God, you find a sanctuary where you heart, soul and mind are lifted out of the ordinary into a space where you can sense God’s presence again.
What distressed the early Christians that 1 Peter was addressed to was that they had no sanctuary–they were being persecuted by the Romans; struggling with severe economic and relational difficulties; no longer able to go to a temple that had been destroyed; and kicked out of the synagogue where they worshiped from week to week. There was no safety, no rest, and nothing to lift them to God.
So this letter introduces its readers to a new concept that was hard for the people then to get their mind around and is still hard for us today to understand: because of the presence of the Spirit of God in the world, and specifically because we are filled with that spirit, WE are now God’s sanctuary. We are the “living stones” that create the rest, safety and divine connection that we’re longing for. We have the power to create gatherings that meet these fundamental needs of life.