WORD OF THE DAY (— John 4:24 )
"God is spirit and they that worship must worship in Spirit and in truth. "
MEDITATE ON THIS ( Sanctuaries Sheltering in Place )
As we look around, we see a world in chaos; people are bothered and seem to be in a panic. The panic seems to fill
the world like a thick blanket choking out their hopes, their visions, and their dreams. However, amid the fear, we still
see a great calm and peace being resurrected. Calm seems to have come over many families. Once parents were busy
and felt that there was never enough time to spend to help their children with their homework. Now an order to shelter in
place has shown families that it is not a matter of time but a matter of priorities. A calm has come across our atmosphere;
once polluted and filled with the choking smog of air travel and travel jam congestion, now an order to shelter in place is
letting our Earth catch her breath from inhaling the toxins of our world. Furthermore, we see a calm has come across churches.
Once a gathering place in which the faith of the community lifted the individual, parishioners are now experiencing the worship of
God apart without the assistance of their pastor or the support of the congregation.
We don't believe that it is mere coincidence that our order to shelter in place coincides with one of the two biggest Christian
holidays (Christmas & Easter). "Easter Sunday" is the one time of the year when "Church" attendance is the expectation.
It is a time that is often centered around festivities, food, candy, the Easter Bunny and fashion shows of Sundays best.
However, this year will be like one we've never seen before. Though the physical doors for many churches will be locked,
the heart of the sanctuaries of God's people will remain eternally open.
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He had already put together the foundation for His church for which He would
be the chief cornerstone. Along with the disciples, many others joined the body of Christ, having been called out to
follow Jesus. The word church comes from the Greek word Ekklesia, which means "the called-out ones." Jesus
called out Peter from being a fisherman to a fisher for the souls of men. Jesus called out Matthew from being a
tax collector, collecting revenue for the government, to become a believer, amassing eternal wealth for the Kingdom
of God. Similar to the early disciples, many Christians have heard and responded to the call of Jesus to join the body
of Christ today called the church.
The Sanctuary within "The Church"
Though many are called, few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Within the assembly of those who have responded
to the call of Christ, a second call is given. This second call is a call to worship. Churches are often referred
to as sanctuaries, signifying a holy place of worship. This second call, a call to worship, is one in which God
has provided us clear guidance. In John chapter 4, Jesus tells the lady at the well who believed the potency
of worship was linked to proximity, that the Father (God) sought worshipers who would worship in Spirit and truth.
Jesus reminded her that this calling does not require a physical sanctuary made by brick and mortar. However,
it would require a heart in which the Holy Spirit felt welcomed to transform into a spiritual sanctuary. God has
called us to create an atmosphere of worship in our homes. Although we are confined to our homes during this
season, we can invoke the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in all who believe. It is indeed of great value to be
a member of a church and led by a Pastor; however, we are also called to become spiritual leaders in our own homes.
God Divides and Conquers
God Divides and Conquers, but not in the way you may think. He is dividing His people through shelter in place
and calls them to a season of Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal. Socrates, the Greek philosopher, is credited
with the statement, "The unexamined life is not worth living." And Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 13:5
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith..." God's call to reflect allows us to look over our spiritual life and
divide it into categories where we are growing and areas where God's Grace needs to be applied all the more.
God is also dividing His people into a smaller group of those who have genuinely repented. In repentance, we turn
away from sin and turn towards the Savior. With reflection and repentance, a call to renewal can occur, in which
our hearts can be transformed into living sanctuaries for Christ, filled with worship and praise. This renewal through
the word of God helps to bring about a transformation of the mind by nourishing the Spirit free from the distractions of the world.
This Easter/Resurrection Sunday, God is calling out (Ekklesia/Church) His true worshipers who will truly worship
Him in Spirit and truth. God is calling us out of a lifestyle of sin and rebellion from God, to a lifestyle of relationship
and genuine fellowship. As the physical churches lay empty and God's people shelter in place, a spirit of true worship
is being resurrected within. God is reviving within us a spirit of worship that enables believers all over the world to praise
the Lord even when there is no congregation to applaud or encourage their praise. God is resurrecting a spirit of worship
which will enable believers to open their lips and shout as they have shouted before that "God is good: all the time.
And all the time:God is good"; even when they have lost their jobs, ran out of toilet paper, or hear widespread global
panic on the news. Indeed God is resurrecting a spirit to enable believers who have already said yes to the call to
come out from the world, to say yes, to the 2nd call, the call to worship. Yes, sisters and brothers, God is preparing
His called-out ones (Church) and reminding them that within our hearts and minds, resides the true sanctuaries
where the Spirit of God's presence dwells and where true worship occurs.
--- Happy Easter/Resurrection Sunday
Collaboratively Written by: Jamelle Woolford and Wala-Neh Labala
Thought for the Week
Respond to God's 2nd call to worship in the sanctuary of your hearts.
Prayer for the week:
Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to become a sanctuary of worship.
May your Holy Spirit make a home in this temple of flesh, for our good and for
your glory. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.