Sacred Space

Making Space for Jesus - December Newsletter

Hello Fellow Encouragers!

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? December – so soon!  Oh, my. A wonderful season. A stressful season. So, I'll put this question out there. Are you making space for Jesus?

Oh yeah, Jesus.

Sometimes, He gets lost in all the hub-bub.

I wasn’t raised on Jesus as the reason for the season. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties I awakened to the richer, fuller meaning of Christmas. A Christmas where Jesus dominated the focus. As the years have gone by, my wonder at the birth story, and my familiarity with the narrative, has dulled my appreciation of the truth wrapped in swaddling cloths. Jesus changes my status.

Jesus changes our status

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message Bible)

His birth marked a change in my status, in your status, with God. We are chosen to be holy servants sharing hope and love.We are called to share God's unique brand of love, especially during this season as many feel loss and loneliness more acutely.

We are chosen, called, and distracted. The activities and stress captures our attention. Because of all of this, we need to intentionally make space for Jesus.

Are you wanting to inject more wonder into your heart during advent? If so, let yourself be filled with wonder and reverence for the birth of Christ by asking Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing. 

Holy Spirit will respond and lead you in the proper direction.

During December, I'm intentionally fighting the urge to  mindlessly wander without wonder through the holiday season. I'm choosing to narrow my focus to the birth of Christ via the Nativity. For several years, I’ve made it a habit to place the Nativity in a distinct location separate from the other Christmas decorations. Each evening before I head to bed, I linger in front of the Nativity allowing only the glow of the Christmas tree to cast light upon it. It’s a solemn, sacred space for remembrance. It's a dedicated time to dwell on God’s gift of Jesus and Mary’s willingness to be a servant.

How might you dedicate a few quiet, peaceful moments before the nativity? Consider lingering before the Nativity imagining the scene, making yourself an observer. What do you see in your mind's eye? What questions come to mind? Let yourself wonder over the birth and life of Jesus. I invite you to join me as I challenge myself to create a sacred space for and with Jesus. Praising the Lord, Terri

 

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 3 Book Reviews and Awesome Gift Ideas

Book #1

The Weekly Prayer Project: This journal is specifically for praying, reflecting, and connecting with God. The book is set up for 52 weeks and it’s divided into seven sections: Requests, Gratitude, Lament, Intercession, Faith, Repentance, and Awe. You can journal by the sequential weeks or you can select a section. Or, you can mix it up selecting a week at random. 

The hardcover book is beautifully illustrated and costs $16. Each week contains a verse, a brief narrative to set the focus, and writing prompts or questions. The pages are of substantial thickness allowing it to become an art journal, if desired.

My friend, Sarah, gave me this book while I supported her during her book launch. I love to journal so it delighted me when I found the pages allowed me to use my ultra-fine Sharpie pens.

Book #2

Blessed: A journal for the highly creative soul is a fun book with space to color, write, sketch, and doodle. There are wonderful prompts and verses throughout to encourage your creative self to spill onto the pages. This hardcover book is $13.

My friend, Coleen, surprised me with this gift, and I often look forward to sitting down with it at the end of my workday.

Book #3 

EXCITING NEWS! My dear friend, Beth Steffaniak, has published on Amazon a great book for the Advent Season called Messiah in a Manger.

Click on the book title above and it will take you to Amazon. The paperback is $6.99 and $2.99 on Kindle. Check it out! Below, you'll find a description of the book as written on Amazon:

The most inspiring story ever—Christ's birth, based on the gospel of Luke—is examined and explored in this ten-day study. Beth uses her signature W.O.R.T.H.Y. Bible study method to go deep where other Bible studies and devotionals often stay shallow or cover too much ground in one day's reading. Not only will you learn how to use this powerful Bible study method from reading and watching Beth glean the Scriptures, but you'll also gain incredible insights from the research she pours into every day's worth of notes. You can use this study in your own Bible study time, as a daily devotional that you and your spouse/family can discuss and/or with your church's small group ministry.

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   Closing Notes

I’ve kept the newsletter short for December as we’re all crazy busy. For those of you wondering, the Hearts Encouraged Private Facebook Group is slated to start in March (maybe sooner). The content will be short to include quotes, Scripture, challenges, and action cues all to help us grow closer to the Lord. My desire is to create community with you to support and encourage. I’m creating the posts now and it's slow going because I'm listening to the Lord for the content. If God's in the messages, then we'll be more richly blessed by the words. Thank you so much for reading and your encouragement!

Loving Jesus,

Terri


Sacred Space Within You and Around You

Hello and Welcome!

In my last post on Meditative Gardens I shared the idea of sacred space as a physical space and as an internal state. Today's post shares in depth why sacred space is an important aspect as you spend time with God. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome! 

Sacred space is the term I use to define the three-dimensional realm where God meets with you and me. Sacred is defined as something that is consecrated, holy and the term space refers to that within me and around me. Sacred space can be established as a physical setting, as a state of mind, and within our heart. It’s probably not hard to image establishing a physical setting as a sacred space but what about the creation of sacred space within one’s heart and mind? Think about sacred space within yourself as an act of worship where you center your heart and mind on God for receptivity to His presence and message. You set all other things aside in heart and mind through separation from distraction, centering your focus on the Lord, and humbling yourself as you ask the Lord to meet you. Let’s look at two Biblical examples related to the concept of sacred space—Moses and Jesus.

Desert In the book of Exodus, you will find references to two tents of meeting. The Tent of Meeting, also known as the Tabernacle, was in the middle of camp and contained, among other items, the Ark of the Covenant. The Tabernacle was where God met with His people and within it the priest performed their assigned holy tasks. The second tent of meeting is described in Exodus 33:7-11. Here we find that Moses set up a tent some distance away outside the Israelite camp. Moses would enter this tent to inquire of the Lord and this was the physical space where he met with God separating himself from the buzz and busyness of the camp. While in the tent, Moses would probably assume a posture of humbleness, bowing low or kneeling with his face to the ground to reframe his view of himself. Though he was the leader of the Israelites, he was a servant before God.

The second example of a physical setting established as sacred space is found in Luke 22:39-46. Jesus takes his disciples to the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, specifically to the garden of Gethsemane. In verse 39 of the NIV, it states that Jesus went, as usual, to the Mount of Olives. The phrase as usual caused me to wonder what drew Jesus to that space. Was it a place of solitude? Did it remind him of the garden, a sacred space, his Father established in Eden? Because of my own love of nature, I can easily grasp how the garden of Gethsemane may have represented a sacred space for Jesus to meet with the Father. In the same way, Moses separated himself from the camp, Jesus removed himself from the disciples so he could establish a sacred space and come before his Father. Both set their focus on God and humbled themselves before Him.  Tulip pathWhile the physical aspect of sacred space is important it can be irrelevant if there has not been adequate preparation of our heart and mind. Why is this preparation significant? It’s because my heart, your heart has replaced the former temple. In 1 Corinthians 3:17, the apostle Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God. As a believer saved by Jesus Christ, your body is now a temple for the Holy Spirit. You have become the Tabernacle—the dwelling place of God. The former Tabernacle of the Old Testament has been replaced and now God meets within your heart and soul. Take a moment and let that truth sink in. Have you ever thought of your heart as a tent of meeting or as the garden—the sacred space within?

Preparing your heart as an internal sacred space requires intentionality and dedication.  Separation, focus, and humbleness are among the key elements. As you come before God, dedicate and consecrate your heart and mind to Him alone, and choose to be fully present without pretense. Next, you should come in authenticity. Come just as you are before God with sin and weaknesses. You are offering yourself to God with an open, surrendered heart along with a thoughtful, curious, and reverent state of mind. You come without an agenda, making your heart and mind, ears and eyes sensitive to perceiving God’s voice. As you develop your practice of entering sacred space, you will find a rhythm and a desire to return to your “tent of meeting”. God delights in you and wants you to experience His presence.

I encourage you to give the following questions serious thought. What if you could live so that you enter each day expecting surprises, refusing to follow the easiest route, letting go of control, and laughing at the future? What if you choose to be receptive to God’s prompts and direction without having all the details or any details? The questions are important. God ordained all the days of your life. He knows every day you will live (Psalm 139:16). Who better to guide you, direct you, give strength in your weakness, and sustain your hope? How will you receive all this and more? It is within sacred space. Personally, I love to think of my heart as a garden. Genesis says God met with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and I call that the very first sacred space! As God met with them so He meets with me in the garden of my heart. God and I together have worked the garden of my heart, removing the thorns, tangles, and dead things. God has and continues to bring healing and His love grows the fruit of the Spirit within me.


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Designating Fixed Sacred Space

Selecting a fixed physical location for sacred space depends on what you want to do in that space. Here are some things to think about as you plan.

  • Is the space just for you or may others in your life use it too?
  • Do you want the space to be readily visible as a reminder or do you want it to be private?
  • Will you bring the items you need to the sacred space each time you go there, or do you want the space set up so you pop in and everything you need is already present?
  • If the space is for prayer and meditation and your house is never quiet, then you may want to consider creating a quiet zone or quiet time. If that’s impossible, then what about a space in your garden, sitting in your car, or a walk-in closet. What about noise-cancelling headphones? Sound crazy? Not when you consider the benefits you will experience by setting yourself apart to be in the presence of God. Don’t stop at the first or second roadblock. This is important.
  • If the space is for worship, do you need space to move around? Do you care if anyone hears you worship?
  • Some Don’ts:  don’t let your sacred space be a distraction; don’t clutter, simplify; don’t forget your focus: God.

Examples of Simple Sacred Spaces Inside and Outside

  Sacred Space 2Meditative garden 6 edit Bench
Creating Flexible Sacred Space

Anywhere, anytime is the key to flexible sacred space.

Maybe there isn’t any one place or any specific time that you can designate as sacred space. The maybes are endless. No problem. Select a container, fill it with the items you need for prayer, worship, or communion with God. Grab and go.

Sacred space can be created within you in spite of not having a dedicated physical space for meeting with God. You are sacred to God and He dwells within you. The act of stopping activity, separating yourself from distraction, and deliberately, authentically presenting yourself to God creates a sacred space. Following are a couple ideas of when or where sacred space can happen. For instance, at work I have to park in a multi-story parking garage. I take a few moments before exiting my car to be with God in that quiet space. Another example is the elevator at work. I have capitalized on alone time in the elevator as a moment to come before God with thanksgiving, gratitude, or requests for help during my day. You might be amazed at those unique moments where you find yourself alone in the busiest of environments. Speak to God aloud or in your mind and intentionally dedicate the moment being fully present to engage with the Lord. Hopefully these example shows you how you can get creative with sacred space! 

Let me know how you create sacred space within and around you! I'm certain you have wonderful ideas and you may inspire another reader. If you're not already a subscriber just click on the "Subscribe" button  in the right sidebar and Feedblitz will send you an confirmation. Make sure you confirm your subscription and then you'll automatically receive the posts. 

Blessings to you!  Terri