Above the doors to the worship area at the church I attend, I recently noticed a single word above the entrance doors: “sanctuary”.
Sanctuary originates from the Latin, a combination of Latin “sancti” (holy or safe) and “arium” (a container to keep something in). The word “sanctuary” is beautiful and descriptive word. By designation, when the congregation enters the auditorium, we are entering a sacred place. It is a place to pray and remember God’s holy word, to offer worship and praise.
The word sancti has the dual meaning of “holy” and “safe”. A sanctuary is a place we take refuge in the Lord, a place separate and safe from the outside world.
In the Hebrew tradition, the word “miqdas” is used in a similar way to designate “holy” – either sacred objects or places of worship. As in “sanctuary”, it designates a separation from the profane and ordinary.
The New Testament also speaks of places of worship, the tabernacle and the sanctuary, but also the new covenant of Christ as described in Hebrews 9:12: “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us”.
It renews me to sit in the sanctuary at church, a place to offer prayer and praise to the Lord. The sanctuary at church is an important part of fortifying the inner sanctuary with teachings of Scripture and worshiping together in community. Attending Church on Sundays is an important part of a regular practice of daily prayer and scripture reading.
Where are your sanctuaries? Do you have a quiet spot in the morning or peaceful evening time for reflection? Do you have a church you attend on a regular basis? Do you have a place by a river or along a wooded path? May you find and honor your sanctuaries, knowing they are holy places.
“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.” – Psalm 150:1 (KJV)
: a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter
: the protection that is provided by a safe place
: the room inside a church, synagogue, etc., where religious services are held
(credit: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)