Make me a sanctuary

It’s as if we’ve gone to the theater. The company puts on a mini-concert during intermission. Despite the fact that it is supposed to be atmospheric, a fun little ditty for while we wait—the act between acts is what sticks.

The golden calf is arguably a mini-show that steals the actual show. What these chapters seem to want to feature is the story of the tabernacle.

The tabernacle is first mentioned in Exodus 25. Moses is receiving instructions on how to make it. “These instructions continue through chapter 31. Then, after a three-chapter interlude, chapter 35 resumes the story (Baker’s Dictionary).”

We’re like moths to a flame, though, and the flame is this three-chapter interlude. God may have asked Moses to fashion a dwelling place for the Lord. But let’s talk about the other offering. It’s an earring offering! Aaron collects the people’s gold. Into the fire goes their jewelry and out comes a golden calf.

What the people do while they wait for Moses is an intriguing short story of old. However, as the act between acts, it is not meant to be the one thing that sticks. The sacred narrator presumes we were around for when God said, a few chapters back: Take up an offering (v. 2). And make me a sanctuary (v. 8).

God wishes to dwell with God’s people. This is as much the gist of Exodus as the giving of the law and the outgoing from Egypt. Now, the blueprint for how to go make this co-habitation a reality does not produce what we imagine when we hear “sanctuary”. Solomon’s Temple was no replica of this tabernacle. The sanctuaries our grandparents built hardly resemble the houses of God built in the Middle Ages.

We creatures have crafted a variety of spaces for the sake of God-with-us in our living. I suppose this is me asking you to be a part of doing it one more time.

We’re not just fixing to gather at Fox Elementary aimlessly. We mean (I hope) to enact in our own time a response to the One who said, take up an offering and make me a sanctuary. That our tent of meeting won’t look like the tent we’ve known has biblical and traditional precedent. Involve the Lord God who longs to be in our midst and it’ll be okay. No, it’ll be more than okay.

We are the little church that could. And, well, you can take that to bank.


Rachel May