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Posts Tagged ‘tabernacle’

HA altar-301-XL

courtesy of Gordon Henry, photographer

In the church where I work, it is customary to leave a remnant of the consecrated bread and wine in a cabinet on the altar called the Tabernacle. (The white curtained area under the brass dome and the cross.) That way, Christ is always present in the Sanctuary. It’s a tradition that stretches back as far as the regulations in Exodus, which was carried into the early Catacombs where the first Christians worshipped, and is still practiced in many churches today where the Holy Eucharist (Communion) is celebrated.

Exodus 25:8, 30  “Then have them build a sanctuary and I will dwell among them…Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times..” 

A perpetual candle on or near the altar area is lit, to signify that the consecrated elements representing Christ’s body and blood are present in the Tabernacle. When the candle it a glow, it is customary to bend a knee before the altar to honor God and to recall that one day every knee a shall bend at the name of Jesus. (Philippians 2:10)

Throughout the week, I bop in and out of the Sanctuary. I straighten the hymnals and distribute offering envelopes, visitors cards, etc. I place bulletins  at the entrance and put one on the organ bench for the organist.  ON the lectern, I leave large-print Scripture passages as well as the prayer list for the readers. I change the hymn board numbers. I take deliveries of candles, unleavened wafers, wine and linens to be placed in the locked sacristy until they are needed for the services. At times, I pray in there as well.

Each time I enter, I can walk down the center aisle, bow to the Tabernacle, and then go about whatever it is I came to do. Or, I can sneak in the side entrance, go down the side aisles, and bypass the altar. Well, truth be told, if I am in a hurry, I often sneak in the side. I don’t take time to approach the altar, dip my knee reverently and quietly, and then proceed with the reason I entered. I’m just going to dash in and back out again.

One day, God convicted me. That quiet, booming voice inside my heart asked, “Why do you ignore my Presence?”

I slipped to the altar, knelt and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

How often do we skirt God during our day? Aren’t there times we feel Him tug on our shirt and say, “Hey, smile and nod to that person over there,  give that homeless beggar a dollar, call so-and-so because they need to hear your voice, or stop and pray for this person whose name I have flashed into your brain?”  But in our busy-ness we skirt His whisperings and go about our tasks. We  try to schedule a time to read His Word, to speak to Him, and hopefully to listen. But, much of our day is  – “I’ll get back to you on that, Lord.” That is, until we need HIm. Until we get that phone call, slam on our brakes in a near-miss, or feel anxiety inch into our chests. Then, we bow a knee, right?

God is always present in our lives once we have “tabernacled” with Christ and allowed Him to become a part of our hearts. We cannot escape God. Like Adam and Eve we don’t have the privilege of being able to hide from Him. He will seek us out.

The Psalmist wrote, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7

I found God (again) today in the church sanctuary where I work – a reminder that His presence is always there with me.  LIke the perpetual candle flame dangling from the gold chain to remind anyone who enters that God is in their midst, I have Christ’s light inside me to remind me His in in the midst of me.

Lord, let me never choose again to ignore you, or try in my hurriedness to skirt around You. May that tabernacle remind me to always bow a knee before You and acknowledge You in my day.

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