Testimony of the Worshiper’s Path in the Temple
Gene Allen Groner of Independence, MO, USA
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. -Isaiah 55:12
Jesus gave water to the Samaritan woman and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water (John 4:13-15).
This statement of Jesus is engraved in a large granite stone that sits behind a rectangular shaped pool at the head of the Worshiper’s Path leading up to the sanctuary at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence.
I have walked up this curved pathway many times. I was there just last Friday, in fact. Walking up the path we first saw on the left a large granite wall engraved with the image of Christ and a figure kneeling before Him, seeking forgiveness. A little farther up on the left is a large rough-cut wooden cross, with light emanating from behind it and casting a shadow of the cross in front of and across the path. When you walk past it, you must walk through the “shadow of the cross,” a sobering and worshipful reminder of the tremendous sacrifice of our Lord.
We walked on past an Ikebana flower arrangement, and finally the bronze statues depicting the “dark night of the soul,” or “La Noche Oscura Del Alma,” a reference to the poem and subsequent book, The Ascent of Mount Carmel which was written about St. John of the Cross, a Spanish priest who lived of the 16th century.
The first of the statues is on his knees bent over in deep pain and depression. The second looks upward from the same kneeling position, and the third stands with arms outstretched, reaching up to the heavens. That display makes me cry, remembering my own “dark night of the soul.” I feel deep inside me the anguish, loneliness, and deep depression. Then arising on my knees with hands reaching up to my Savior, I see myself begging his forgiveness and mercy. Finally standing on my feet with outstretched arms, I look upward in complete surrender and praise to my Lord Jesus Christ, full of mercy and grace. To walk past that display and pause to reflect on my own situation not that long ago is a deeply emotional experience. No wonder it makes me cry-cry in humble gratitude for God’s grace and mercy.
Before reaching the sanctuary, the path stops at the large pool of water. A waterfall gently flows into the pool below. To me, this pool was for baptism, following the repentance witnessed on the path behind me. Powerful imagery. The presence of God. Spirits lifted high. Ready to enter the sanctuary in worship and praise. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Redeemer, Amen.
“Light dawns on a weary world.” CCS 240
The Light of God
Epiphany invites us to focus on the light of God. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. As you breathe gently in and out, reflect on the statement, “The light of God is in all things.” The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light and it lives in you.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.