Sacred Space

03 Aug

I am preaching through 1 Corinthians and in preparation for 1 Corinthians 3 I have been doing some thinking about sacred spaces, particularly in reference to corporate worship. Our church is known for its casual atmosphere on Sunday morning. I like it that way. I want it to continue, but I have been thinking how we can maintain that casual, warming, accepting atmosphere and yet recreate the sacredness of the sanctuary.

The Scripture says we are God’s temple (1 Cor 3:16). Not “you are God’s temple” but “y’all are God’s temple.” It is true that the Holy Spirit dwells in each Christian, but that is not the point of Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 3. The context of the verse is the problems of divisions in the local church. By saying “y’all are God’s temple,” Paul is meaning that you all as brick’s in God’s building are the building in which God dwells. God is holy and will only dwell in a sacred space.

How can we work to recreate sacred space, a holy place for God to dwell?

Sacred space can easily be lost.
Culturally we, in the Western world, have lost a sense of the sacred.

The Poet/prophet writes:
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not muchIs really sacred. ~ BD 1965

So much of the evangelical world has bought into the pragmatic/market-driven/commercialized/slick produced/plastic/consumer/materialistic values of the Western world and it has eaten up our sacred space. I guess, I want it back. I want to reclaim sacred space…holy places to find God, see him, behold, gaze, worship, reflect…

I need sacred space.

Not Americanized sacred space

Not Evangelical-ized sacred space

Not charismatic-approved sacred space

Not emotionally-hyped sacred space

Not sacramental sacred space

Not ancient sacred space

Not emerging sacred space

I need sacred space

I don’t need the label and the prefabricated set of values that goes with each of the above sacred space. There is some that each of these traditions has to contribute, but I am not looking for the latest fad in “planning your worship service.” I want to join with others in the pursuit of God, to jump headlong into the cosmic pursuit of the illusive God.

I need sacred space.

Here are ten elements that I think are necessary in reclaiming sacredness. I am going to offer them to my congregation Sunday morning.

Humility :: a recognition of God’s greatness and our smallness

Sobriety :: a solemn focus on the presence of God

Contemplation :: a gazing upon the beauty & mystery of God

Confession :: acknowledging personal sin against God

Repentance :: rethinking and re-living for God

Brokenness :: feeling God’s sorrow regarding our personal sins

Openness :: allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate our hearts

Earnestness :: loving God with all your strength

Willingness :: ready to do what God asks

Communion :: eating the bread and drinking the juice in memory of Jesus


Posted by on August 3, 2007 in Life, Theology


Tags: ,

8 responses to “Sacred Space

  1. OPM

    August 3, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Pastor Derek,

    Good answer. I have come to see “sacred spaces” in a whole new way these past few years.

    In our area — the Great Revival of 1800 took place. I had the awesome privelege of working (last fall) at the old Bowen Home in Goodlettsville, TN (one of the oldest houses in TN) where the Bowens took in the great Revivalists of that day. Across the street from that house is where a Great Campmeeting took place and consequently a church was born!

    Even more amazing to me, is that, my wife’s deceased Grandfather was born in that house. And my wife’s mother was saved as a twelve-year-old girl on a bridge on the property of the old Campmeeting (the bridge is no longer there). And suddenly, I find myself working there — immersed in the history of my wife’s (and consequently my son’s) people.

    Jentezen Franklin said it this way, “Just as there was revival life in the old bones of Elisha, there is new life to be found in touching the old bones of revival.”
    How cool is that?

    The “revival” may not look the same — but there are sacred places as well as sacred spaces.

    This is not exactly what you were aiming at per se’ — but closely related.

    I have come to see “sacred space” in three ways…

    1. Kingdom Reality — which is all around us (Mt. 4:16)
    2. Holy Impressions — when God’s Spirit communes with ours (Isaiah 28:9-11)
    3. Thin Spaces (an old Celt concept –old time Pentecostals would say the Holy Spirit’s Presence was “so thick you could cut it with a knife” — not that you’d want to.) It is the place where the heavens and the earth meet. (Gen. 28:16-17).

    Thanks for your blogs — very encouraging — sometimes challenging. God Bless.

    Pastor Shane

    p.s. concerning a former blog — Priest Holmes — how can we go wrong with a man whose name is “Priest of the Holme”? (sorry preacher humor). Go Chiefs!!!

  2. OPM

    August 3, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    It’s me again — the first text was actually Mt. 4:17

    God bless.

  3. Derek Vreeland

    August 4, 2007 at 6:20 am


    Revivals of the past are often prophecies for the future. And the fulfillment of prophecy is always different than what people think.

    So many of the Jews missed Jesus, because their fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Messiah seemed so different to them.

    You are right the coming revivals may not look the same, but for me I am not looking for a revival to blow through…I am looking for sacred space in which to VIVE.

    I am expecting good things Sunday morning.

    I am also expecting good things from the Chiefs too! I don’t think Priest has a shot. I think IF he makes the team he will be the number 3 back…behind LJ and Benett.


  4. OPM

    August 4, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I would agree with “not looking for revival to blow though…”. That is what I mean by “Kingdom Reality” — Jesus said, “See things in a new way — the Kingdom of the heavens (skies) is all around you!”

    To live in that reality — to walk in it — to breathe it in — to live out perpetual “revival” in our lives — it is to know “contented dissatisfaction” — always full, always wanting more.

    One of the dangers of the tarditional use of the word “revival” is that some are looking for that emotional high — a Holy Ghost buzz if you will. That feeling will come and go — but to walk in/ live in the “sacred space” or “Kingdom Reality” is a greater constant. At the same time, I do enjoy the spiritually charged “high” times when they come.

    I never want to be that person who walks into the house of God and says, “I’ve pretty much done it all, heard it all, seen it all”. As a minister of the Gospel for nearly 20 years now — I can humbly say, “the more I dig, the more I find — and God is still as amazing to me now as when I first started!”

    God bless.

    p.s. I agree with your assessment of the Holmes situation — but not a bad number 3 guy. And who knows, he might just suprise us all (even in the number 3 slot).

  5. Ed V

    August 4, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    High there

  6. Derek Vreeland

    August 6, 2007 at 3:18 am


    “Perpetual revival” and “Kingdom reality” are great ways to talk about what we are wanting to live in.

    We have to often use new words to talk about old ideas among new Christians.

    This is the work of a missional teacher.



  7. Calvin Wulf

    August 8, 2007 at 3:26 am

    Dear Pastor Derck,

    I agree that “y’all” is the best translation of the Greek. God is present when y’all are assembled in prayer and worship in Christ. God is present in the communion. It is good to enter the sacred space of assembled believers with an attitude of contemplation. The best understanding of the Greek word for contemplation is, “to behold.” We behold God in quiet contemplation. We can take sacred space anywhere with the attitude of contemplation.

    Y’all are welcome to visit our blog at

    At His Mercy,

    Calvin Wulf

  8. Derek Vreeland

    August 8, 2007 at 5:23 am


    Thanks for posting a comment. Contemplation comes from the Latin word contemplatio meaning “to gaze” or have you said…”to behold.”

    This is strong in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. I have a Eastern icon of Jesus in my office. Often I just gaze….it is worshipful.

    You can read more about my icon here


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