Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | April 1, 2018

Sonrise Service, Easter 2018

Happy and honored for service to be at my home – Sanctuary

My church had our sunrise service at my house.  I gave the message.  How wonderful for lucky me.  Happy, thankful, humbled and pleased to offer my home and words.  Both are called “Sanctuary.”

Here is the message:


Easter 2018

Happy Easter Emmaus. He is Risen!

Thank you for having our sunrise service here at my home. I moved here after my wife Katherine died. Soon after I moved in, I named my home. I named it “Sanctuary”. Welcome to Sanctuary.

The word Sanctuary is in the Bible one hundred thirty seven times.

Sanctuary is the place where God lives. Sanctuary as a place changes over time. It moves from being places to being in persons.   Easter changes the sanctuary forever. People become the sanctuary. Yet, through all the changes sanctuary remains a holy place. It has to be kept holy by humans.

In the Old Testament, the first use of sanctuary is in Exodus 15:17 as “the place, O Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.

Part of God’s Spirit physically lived in the section of the tent tabernacle built for Him alone. Moses followed meticulous instructions to build this sanctuary. The place in the tent tabernacle where God lived was holy, holy, holy. Only the priests could go to the place where God was. In Numbers it says anyone who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.

Why would an all loving God want to kill anyone who comes near where He lives? Because human life is far less important than the holiness of God. That’s a hard standard. His ways are not our ways. The nature of God is absolute, pure holiness and goodness. For God’s goodness to be absolute, his holiness is absolutely necessary. Nothing unholy, or unclean, can be near God. Ever. In the Old Testament sufficient holiness could be achieved through ritual sacrifices, purification and cleanliness.

Yet, even in this scary, forbidden, threatening place, we read that “the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind thoughts”.  The Hebrews couldn’t get near a fearsome God in that sanctuary, yet God knew them intimately.

King Solomon built the first temple with its sanctuary. It was still a place restricted by ritual and ceremony. Yet, Chronicles adds something new when it says the Lord will pardon he “who sets his heart on seeking God – the Lord God of His fathers, even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.”

In the tent and in the temple, God the Father, knew the hearts of men and women. Even though his sanctuary was a limited space – a small place in time –the Creator knows all of his creations.

The space for the sanctuary is outlined here on the ground. The ribbon and thread outline the 500 cubits square of the sanctuary. Look at how small it is. How it fits our human dimensions, quite unlike the expanse of The Bay before you and the sky above you. It’s very personal, unlike the millions of miles to the sun now rising or the unbelievable, deep dark outer space that is out there beyond our comprehension.  The God who created all of that universe had part of His spirit live in a sanctuary this small.

Consider the size of sanctuary in the temple and our sanctuary in our church. One fits well into the other. If part of the Lord God can live in this space, certainly he can dwell in our sanctuary.

Unfortunately, the first temple sanctuary had to be destroyed. It wasn’t kept holy. The Hebrews let ‘foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my sanctuary”. The priests “put others in charge of my sanctuary”. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel describe how “you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices – I myself will withdraw my favor. I will not look on you with pity or spare you.” That’s a terrifying message.   An all loving God has consequences as severe as rewards are wonderful.

Then we read, “The Lord abandoned His sanctuary.” It gets worse.

God allowed enemies to “kill without compassion or pity” and to “begin at my sanctuary.” Thankfully, in Daniel we learn the “sanctuary will be reconstructed”.  It was rebuilt for Jesus to come and change everything. Isaiah says “the Lord Almighty, he will be a sanctuary.”

When Jesus died on the cross the curtain that closed the sanctuary was rent from top to bottom. The foot thick barrier between God and man was opened. When Jesus rose from the grave, Sanctuary stopped being a single place in time and space.

The Sanctuary on earth for the one, only, true, living God changed from a place to persons. The Lord God who lived in the tent and temple sanctuary now lives in the sanctuary you make for Him in your body. Your body is His temple.

How can an absolutely pure, holy God live in me – a filthy, sinful man? Because Jesus paid it all. The blood of Jesus washed us cleaner than the blood of animals washed the ceremonial fixtures in the old sanctuary.   Jesus was the sacrifice that took away every single sin of thought, word, and deed. The God who is holy, holy, holy could come out of the tent and temple sanctuary and live in us. We carry the sanctuary of God on earth in our bodies.

We are going to leave these bodies. I came to live here at Sanctuary when my late wife left her earthly coil. We both loved water views. I wrote in my prayer journal in 1997 that I would like a house on the water – if it is in His Will. In 2008 we had a contract for that property right over there, but Katherine wouldn’t sign it and wouldn’t say why. I was flabbergasted and frustrated. I wrote in my prayer journal, “No” to home on the water. I gave up the desire of my heart.

Last year I found in my prayer journal another message I got later about living on the water. I had written, “I’ll take care of the details” in quotes. That was in 1997. I had completely forgotten about it.

Almost 17 years after that message, the Lord truly took care of the details. I believe God gave me this home. He gave me this place of abiding beauty and abounding peace when I needed it. Not when, or how, I wanted it on my own. And, not because I deserved anything whatsoever. An all-loving God gave me an unearned gift because He is kind and generous beyond my words.

I came here to grieve. Frankly, I came to just survive the loss of my wife. I had no plans beyond that. None.

I’ve spent hours on that dock adding the salt of my tears to the salt of The Bay. I made my keening laments. Always, I thanked God for this generous gift of boundless beauty and absolute peace in between sobs. I praised Him, even when I didn’t understand anything, because I know to do so. Soon enough Psalm 20:2 spoke to me. “May he send you help from the sanctuary.”  Help came in healing. Help came as hope for good health to live to love my family, my kin, my church family, friends – and anyone who needs His agape love. To write and speak life to others.

Then, Psalm 63:2 shouted to me, “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and glory.” Indeed I did. Indeed I do.

I give thanks out loud every day for the privilege of living here. I’m grateful, grateful, grateful for Sanctuary. So, I was surprised a few months ago on the 4th anniversary of Katherine’s passing when I realized that Sanctuary, my home, wasn’t about a sanctuary for me. It was about making a better place, a sanctuary, for the living God in my heart. My time here is about more than my grieving. I’ve got work to do here in reading and writing as I was commanded over 30 years ago. And I must make this a place where all who come here can open their personal sanctuary for the Lord God to enter. That’s why I’m thrilled this body of Believers is here now.

Years ago, I really don’t know when, my Katherine underlined Hebrews 13:15 in her Bible about the new sanctuary – “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of the lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Let’s do that, Emmaus. Let’s do good. Let’s share with others. Let’s make personal sacrifices.

As I looked up Sanctuary 137 times in Katherine’s bible I found she also had underlined and circled these words in Psalm 73. “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God then I understood their final destiny.”

“My flesh and my heart fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish. You destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. I will tell of all your deeds.”

Katherine highlighted all that in her Bible. Let’s do it. Let’s make a Sanctuary for the Lord in our hearts – and tell others about Jesus rising from the dead. That He is alive today.

Let’s be the Praise song that sings “Lord prepare me to be a Sanctuary. Pure and Holy. Tried and True. With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living Sanctuary for you.”

Happy Easter from Sanctuary. From my sanctuary to your sanctuary for Him.

He is Risen!


Here is the full video: 33 minutes

Here is the last half of the message and service – which my daughter captured on my phone: 12 minutes.


Happy Easter 2018!  He is Risen Indeed!


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