This week we finish reading the Book of Exodus. The story of the Egyptian exodus actually only takes up the first half of the book (ch. 1- 17). The middle of the Book of Exodus is the stories of Mt. Sinai, including the Ten Commandments (ch. 18 - 24) and the Golden Calf (ch. 32-24).
The remainder of the Book of Exodus is the story of the building of the Tabernacle, the original Jewish house of worship. The Torah calls the tabernacle "ohel mo'ed" the tent of meeting. The tabernacle was indeed like a tent, portable, easy to break down and transport. This mobile, modular temple and the prototype for all the temples and synagogues that followed (ch. 25 - 31 and 35 - 40).
The tabernacle sits at the physical center of the Israelite camp and is the spiritual heart of the people. This "tent of meeting" is the place where Moses meets God and hears God's voice. The tabernacle is the place where earth touches heaven.
From God acting miraculously and speaking directly to the people in Egypt, at the shores of the Red Sea and on Mt. Sinai the story turns to a routine of holiness. Ritual, community, mystery and small moments of revelation take the place of the epic highs of Mt. Sinai.
I invite you to reflect on the holy and special places in your lives. What are our sanctuaries? What makes them so? How can we create sanctuaries for ourselves and others?