Archive for December, 2008

Holy Places, Thin Places – a Biblical, Historical summary

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 by Helen

I read this recently & thought it was brilliant summary tracing the concept of God dwelling in a place. This is an except from ‘Punk Monk’. For more http://all4him.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/Punk-Monk-chapter-2.pdf

 

 

Holy Places, Thin Places

The Holy Place, a place of meeting with God, is a major theme running through the Bible. It begins in Genesis in the Garden of Eden when God walked with Adam and Eve. The patriarchs, such as Abraham, set up altars to mark places of divine meetings. Jacob dreamed at the place he later named Bethel (in Hebrew “the house of God”) and he woke to declare, “Surely the LORD is in this place and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16). He called that piece of desert “the gate of heaven,” and commemorated his encounter with God by building an altar. In the desert, God called to Moses from a burning bush, a physical symbol of the presence of “I AM” (see Exod. 3:1-6). As Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the people were instructed to set up a “tent of meeting”—the Tabernacle—where God came to reside, His presence like a cloud. For the Israelites, this wasn’t like a group hug or having a “pet god”: It was a personal, brooding, awesome Presence that descended deeply on people as they worshipped. As Jack Hayford has said, “The Tabernacle is not a great hall for the assembling multitudes, but a place of personal encounter, where worshippers bring their covenant offerings.”3

 

When the Israelites made it to the Promised Land, the Tabernacle became the Temple, a permanent place of prayer and worship. God called for the Temple to be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Isa. 56:7; Matt. 21:13). In the explosive beginning to his Gospel, John wrote that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, ESV). Eugene Peterson brought us the same verse in a different way: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (THE MESSAGE).

 

The holy places of the Celts were sometimes called “thin places” because they believed that the seen elements of earth and the unseen dimensions of heaven were more closely connected in such locations. Thin places could be any place of prayer, from a hermit’s hut to a rugged cliff or beautiful seascape. The designation of certain places as sacred was not rooted in a pantheistic impulse to worship the location itself, but rather in a desire for a personal encounter with God in particular environments. As Susan Hines-Brigger notes, “The hills, the sky, the sea, the forests were not God, but their spiritual qualities revealed God and were connected to God.”4

 

Now many of us might balk at the suggestion that place matters at all. Isn’t God omnipresent? Doesn’t “sacred space” sound a bit New Age? We must remember that throughout Church history, the idea of the sacred or holy place is recurring—not “new” at all. In many Christian traditions, buildings can be consecrated. In the Anglican Church, a bishop stands outside a new church building and hammers on the door three times after praying these powerful words: Almighty God, we thank you for making us in your image, and to share in the ordering of your world. Receive the work of our hands in this place, now to be set apart for your worship, the building up of the living, and the remembrance of the departed, to the praise and glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.5

 

Places can also be special for their familiarity, connecting with us because of their beauty, their peace or the memories we’ve created there. Ultimately, the “thin place” for all of us is the heart, and sometimes being in a place of sacred beauty can soften our hearts to encounter God. Marcus Borg writes that “a thin place is anywhere our hearts are opened.”6

 

Within the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem was a giant curtain that separated the people from the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God lingered. When Christ breathed His last on the cross, the curtain was ripped in two from top to bottom (see Matt. 27:51-52). Then and there, the divide was broken—God could “tabernacle” with His people, and the place He would dwell would be our hearts.

 

At His ascension, calling His disciples to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, Jesus promised, “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20, THE MESSAGE). In fulfillment of that promise, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost to Jesus’ followers, who were gathered in a particular place (see Acts 2). We have no reason to believe that a disciple who had chosen to be elsewhere that day would have been baptized with the Spirit—the place mattered. Jesus Himself had told them as much when He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem (see Acts 1:4-5).

 

Paul declared that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 6:19). Right now, Jesus knocks at your heart’s door, longing to come in and dwell. And His dwelling is the key. Holy places are not about buildings or structures—they are about relationship. They are about a God who, from the beginning of time, has longed to be with His people. Is it so hard to contemplate that the God who became a man “and moved into the neighborhood” should still want to work in our lives and our world? Is the “thin place” such a difficult idea to take in?”

I will waste my Life

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 by Mark

Here is another song from Misty Edwards of IHOP.
It is a wonderful hearts cry to surrender to Jesus and a wonderful tool to take us into worship. It fits well with the thought of our lives as an Alabaster Jar.

So why not put everything else aside for 5 mins and let your heart minister to the Lord as you sing this song to Him.