“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”- Matthew 11:28
Let me ask you something: how many of you are feeling heavy-laden right now? This being a written column I cannot see a show of hands, but if I had to guess, I’d estimate that at least 80% of you read that and placed yourself in that category. After all, it’s been eleven hard months of quarantines and sickness. Eleven months of not seeing peoples’ faces. Eleven months of not being able to give hugs. Eleven months of not being able to come to church.
Maybe I’m biased, but I think that last one has just as large an effect, if not even moreso, than some of the others. After all, think of where we meet in the church. The definition of sanctuary is “a place of refuge or safety.” Church is meant to be our refuge from the outside world. When Monday through Saturday drags us down, it is Sunday morning that renews us. When everything around us feels unstable or unsafe, it is church we turn to as a source of stability and peace. Yet right now, we do not have that place.
One of my first goals as pastor here is to make sure that even though we cannot be back together in person, you still have that safe place. I seek to provide a refuge for you, a place where we are still aware of the existence of COVID-19 but where we do not allow it to bring us down.
One of my favorite praise songs is “Sanctuary.” You may know it by its starting line: “Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary.” I’m praying that very prayer to God. If we cannot be in our physical sanctuary, I pray that I can be a sanctuary for you. I pray that our morning worship be a sanctuary where you can be immersed in praise and fellowship. I also pray that our conversations together could be a sanctuary. I pray that we could speak together and I could help you carry whatever may be burdening your heart at any given moment.
We all deserve a place where we can be free. A place where we can drop our burdens, or if not drop then at least allow someone else to help us shoulder the load. A place where the world can just stop, a place where the stresses of the last year cannot get to us. That place may not be a physical location right now, but the Lord is preparing one nonetheless.