April 2024 Pastor’s Corner — Refuge

 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. — Psalm. 28:2

As I come to a half-century of walking this earth, I find that the frenetic nature of our culture is wearing on me more often than not.  Everything seems to operate at a “hurry up and wait” pace that leaves me stressed and exhausted, and there are few places to go to find a respite from it.  Social media stirs up my anxiety and my discontent.  The news stirs up my fears and worries.  The pleasure of eating out is often tainted by slow service due to understaffed restaurants and higher prices due to supply chain issues.  The advancements of technology that were meant to improve the quality of our lives (and in many ways it has) seems to have had the opposite effect more often than not.  It’s not just our youth and children whose faces are plastered to their phones, but all generations.  Instead of having more time to rest and relax, we are constantly pushed to do more in less time.  We need sanctuary.  Sanctuary from the frenetic pace of our culture, our lives, and our selves.

“Sanctuary” is defined as “a place of refuge or safety.”  For thousands of years, the spaces we set aside for encountering God have been called a sanctuary.  Even still today, we refer to these spaces as a sanctuary, and in those spaces we experience and do things that are different than any other place to which we go.  A sanctuary is an inherently counter-cultural space, it is intrinsically different from anywhere else in our lives.  Everywhere else we go is designed to meet some need or want in our lives.  We want to go to those places because we expect them to do something for us.  A sanctuary, though, is different.  We do things in a sanctuary that is unlike anything else we do, anywhere else. The sanctuary provides refuge and safety because it enables us to look beyond ourselves, to see and experience God.

The fundamental flaw with the typical rhythms of our lives is that it all revolves around us.  I structure my life in order to meet my wants and needs.  “I” am the center of my life.  While that’s somewhat obvious, it is also the primary problem, because “I” can not satisfy myself.  “I” can not meet the deepest longings of my soul, as hard as I might try.  And trying is exhausting.  What we do in a sanctuary is designed and intended to move our eyes off our navels and onto the cross.  Away from myself, and onto the Lord.  In the sanctuary, we move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.  From what we know to what we don’t.  From what we want to Who we need.  In the sanctuary, we are reminded that we are not the center of the universe, or even our lives.  That it’s not always all about me, or you, but rather about Him.

Ultimately, sanctuary isn’t a particular place but rather a Person, Jesus Christ.  And technically we can find sanctuary wherever we find Him, which is anywhere.  But practically we need particular places of sanctuary, spaces intended for refuge and safety for our souls.  Places where we do things differently than anywhere else in our lives, where we worship our God, confess our sins, receive His word, practice His sacraments.  Come to the sanctuary, and find refuge and safety from the frenetic world in which we live.

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. — Psalm 59:16


Rev. David Garrison