The Holy Place
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 (NIVUK)
Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity is part of a UNESCO world heritage site. Irrespective of personal denominational affiliations, Christians from around the world flock there to see the cave, where, according to the tradition endorsed by the Roman Empress Helena, Jesus was born. It’s regarded as a Holy Place, in which the presence of God may be felt more intimately.
The notion that one place may be more holy than others is commonplace among religions. Pilgrims make special journeys to them in order to feel closer to God or to become more spiritual. Devout Sikhs visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Muslims go to Mecca, Roman Catholics travel to the Vatican, Jews to Jerusalem, Anglicans to shrines such as the one in Canterbury Cathedral, etc.
But is it true? Can a particular place be more holy than others? It’s understandable that, when surrounded by objects and images of faith, one may feel more inspired or more motivated about commitment. The Spirit of God, however, is everywhere. The Spirit of God is not a commodity or a resource that is more concentrated in one place than in another. God is Spirit, and he is fully present wherever we are.
The birth of Jesus concerns the presence of God. No longer should believers think that God is afar off or unattainable. He’s not more real in one place or at one time or for one people. He is real everywhere at every time for everyone. That’s why Matthew explained about Jesus: “They will call him Immanuel – which means, ‘God with us’”.
In Jesus, God has come to us. Each day, no matter where we are and no matter who we are, we wake up and walk in his presence.
Jesus is the Holy Place.
Where can we go from your Spirit, O Lord? Thank you that your comforting presence is everywhere, ready to fill us with the peace and the joy of which your angels sang when Jesus was born. In His name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.