Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Maine PilgrimageSanctuary: 1: a place consecrated for worship; 2: a place of refuge and protection

David and I have just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Maine, where we stay in a little lakeside cabin built by his grandparents and maternal great grandfather. For us it is a “thin place,” where God’s imminence and transcendence seem to meet. A place where the truth that the earth is the Lord’s and every hill and root of it shot through with God’s glory is easy to comprehend. It’s the kind of place that can be, if I’m honest, a little annoying when your first arrive (forgot the milk? That will be at least an hour and a half round trip. Cell phone service? Some days. Land line down? “We’ve got somebody coming to that area in just two weeks!”) But once you’ve been there past those first few days it is very hard to leave and impossible to leave behind. It gets into your bones and whispers something good about the state of the world.

At the end of our trip we took our younger son Jacob to Ohio for his first semester at Denison University, another kind of refuge. Like other liberal arts institutions, at its best it is a place where a diverse group of students become one community. A place where gay, straight, bi, and trans students, Asian, African, Hispanic, European and American kids, economically privileged and economically disadvantaged, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and none-of-the-above can come close to each other across differences. And when, after four years, they leave their haven on the hill one hopes that community will have gotten into their bones and they will take the complexity and joy of those closenesses with them out into a world screaming with division and suspicion.

As our new program year begins and we turn our attention to the question of becoming an officially “Immigrant Welcoming Church,” I invite you to join me in giving thanks for all the sanctuaries in our lives. For the physical sanctuary where we worship, the sanctuary of our community where we are nurtured and challenged, and the sanctuaries unique to each one of us. May God’s goodness get deep in our bones and empower us to open our doors wide and invite others in, and to take what we have received in such abundance out into the world.