Our church, when seen as a building, is beautiful. It matches the palmetto, pine and live oak forests of the area well. Great brown beams hold a beautiful light-filled glass and tan stucco structure together. Within, the pews are well maintained, the altar is highlighted by a beautifully done stained glass cross with Scripture and depictions of Christ adorning it. A few hundred people come each Sunday to experience the presence of God surrounded by a space that is holy to many. Certainly it was built with holy ground in mind, so for the worshipper who meets God there, the architect succeeds in his or her vision.
We all have moments of the sacred, and it happens to different people in different ways. God is always prodding our hearts wherever we are, so for some, the architect is God himself, as by a stream in the woods, one might see a deer and be reminded that God takes care of the world -- those conscious of their existence like us, and those not like the deer. When we feel God, in that realization, whatever space it is, becomes sacred ground.
Many of us hold the burning bush of Moses to be a strong image of this kind of space. It is dramatic and is the kind of story that lasts over the generations. The bush was supernaturally on fire. God's presence was obvious from a voice that spoke, commanding Moses to take off his sandals. It was there that Moses received God's nod to lead, regardless of his ability to do so. God would be his strength as he led his people out of slavery. It would be hard, but God would be with him. God always had been with him, as God is with all of us. But the bush, burning on a mountaintop, woke him up from the dream that had become his life. Moses was awakened to who God had made him to be. Not just a shepherd in the desert, but a leader of men and women. Great things happened because of that sacred space.
All great relationships with God start with a realization that God is really working all around us. I remember a day when I committed to praying "unceasingly" as the Scripture calls us to. I literally remained in a state of prayer all day. It was hard and I can't say I did it well. But that day I saw God at work all around me. I saw people moving and doing God's will sometimes without even realizing it. My eyes were opened, and all the spaces I occupied that day in the little town of Derry, N.H., became sacred to me.
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We all have a need for sacred moments. God built each of us to worship and glorify him with all of our being. We all have gifts that only reach our full potential with the spirit of God awakens them. How are you awakening? And will you accept God's prodding when it comes?
Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.