Read Ascent Psalm 122 (preferably THE MESSAGE translation if possible).
“When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy…” (Psalm 122:1).
All my life I’ve been drawn to chapels and little churches. As a farm boy, I had fun climbing the steps into the pulpit of our little rural church, pretending I was the preacher. The chapel at Concordia College, Edmonton, had a magnetic pull for me. At the Senior College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and at the St. Louis Seminary in Missouri I quickly found the paths to their chapels. Why? What was the drawing card? I talked with God in those places.
Over the years I visited, almost daily, the Creston Valley Hospital across the street from our church. Their chapel is still my place of refuge. At Foothills Hospital in Calgary where I trained as an intern chaplain for three months in ‘86, their chapel became my sanctuary. Travelling to Tanzania, Africa, five years ago, I found the chapel at Heathrow Airport in London. There I observed pilots, nuns, businessmen, persons from various religious backgrounds pausing to pray. Even that little roadside chapel in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass, near Pincher Creek, Alberta, grabbed my spiritual imagination.
We may be fascinated by places of worship, but it’s meeting God in those places that makes the difference. Jacob, who stole a birthright and blessing from his brother Esau, discovered God out in the wilderness one dark night when he saw a ladder and angels, and he mused, “Surely God is in this place and I did not know it!” Moses also was running away from God, but God warmed his heart with a burning bush. In the heat of that moment Moses listened to God and took off his shoes. He was on holy ground. Houses of God are not necessarily built with human hands.
When dialoguing with students in confirmation classes I’ve emphasized that “the church is not a building; the church is a people.” These words come from a song that sings: “I am the church. You are the church. We are the church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world; yes, we’re the church together.” So, if that is true, my family or friends who help me pray are like finding a chapel in which to visit with God. Let’s look around to creatively discover new chapels or houses of God today. Take a moment to say thanks for the good old ones too!
Dear Jesus, I value the fact that You and Your disciples deliberately found quiet places to pray. These were not accidental encounters with Your Father. You intentionally chose to be in those places. Continue to draw me to places and relationships like that, even today, to meet You there.