“One generation shall laud Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” – Psalm 145:1-9
I believe the world is full of “thin places,” places where the boundary between heaven and earth is permeable and the presence of God is almost palpable. I believe in them because I’ve been to some. There is a mountaintop in New Mexico where the stars almost drip from the sky, a church in rural Sierra Leone where calls to dawn prayer in three faiths make harmony, and the sanctuary at Old South Church in Boston.
Understand, our sanctuary is beautiful, very beautiful in fact. There is hand-crafted stained glass and stencil-painted walls and shining organ pipes and intricately carved finials topping each row of pews. But beauty is not what makes it a thin place.
It is a thin place because whenever I sit in a pew and pray, I can feel beneath my feet that the wood of the floorboards is worn down a fraction of an inch. The cherry wood is soft and concave, light and thin, holy and worn down by the feet of the faithful worshiping God for generations. Every time we sidle into pews from the aisle, every time we roll a wheelchair into place, every time we pray and preach and praise, we wear down the walls that stand between the world as it is and the world God has promised.
It’s not just Old South. In every sanctuary, past generations pray with us and we pray alongside those yet unborn. Sanctuaries are places where the membrane dividing heaven and earth is being worn down by the faith of the faithful: thin places through which God’s Spirit flows like fresh air.
God bless our worship, even more.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.