I grew up in a church where the sanctuary was the fanciest room in the building, reserved only for Sunday mornings and special occasions. The wooden pews and the raised alter where the choir and the pastors performed were permanent fixtures, and only the accessories were moved about for cleaning when no one was there.We learned to use our best manners in the sanctuary and our quietest voices, too.
I recently reflected on my childhood sanctuary as I watched my kids gobbling down pasta and snitching cookies from the dessert table at our annual, community spaghetti dinner. With the help of a few others, it had taken less than 20 minutes to transform our Sunday morning sanctuary into a temporary Italian restaurant, bustling with congregants and friends who came to warm up with food, fellowship, and fun.
Two weekends before, the sanctuary was a nautical party space where the adults bid on prizes and barefooted kids weaved in and out. Later this year, the sanctuary will be the place where we hold Peace Camp.
Our children are growing up in a sanctuary where we not only worship, sing, and use our quiet voices, but also where we play, dance, and share snacks or a meal. My children are comfortable to walk into our sanctuary when we arrive early on Sunday mornings or when we pop in to the Fellowship at random times throughout the week. It’s not a hands-off place to them, yet they respect the space and know it is where special things happen.
At the end of the day, their sanctuary and my childhood sanctuary still hold a similar meaning–both are a sacred space to connect and a safe haven to find community.