Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

August 2006

Walking Temples

Even though I’ve been practicing the presence of God for decades, I’m struck by something new about it. (Practicing the presence refers to having an awareness of God all day long in which we practice that interactive life with God in a mild sort of prayer; see Enjoying the Presence of God) It came to me as I was doing lectio divina in Romans and got to 8:26 where the Spirit prays for us. Where? In us through the mutual indwelling of the Spirit and me (Rom. 8:9; study buffs check out John 14:26; 1 Cor. 6:15-20; Eph. 2:22).

Think about how odd this is—as you take a shower, as you tie your shoe, as you drink your coffee, the Holy Spirit is praying inside you. For the Jews, the temple was a place of prayer. So that’s why we’re “temples” of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). You and I are walking temples.

N. T. Wright emphasizes that the Jewish temple was “the place where heaven and earth meet.” Heaven and earth are not “separated by a great gulf. Instead, they overlap and interlock . . . so that God makes his presence known, seen and heard within the sphere of earth.”

So every moment is a sacred one as heaven and earth meet inside me—a walking temple. When a server waits on me in a restaurant, when my friend calls me, when someone receives my email, they are encountering a walking temple. I want them to sense they’ve come to a space of prayer, a place where heaven and earth meet. (Yes, I know . . . I can hear the likely response of one of the goofy guys at church: “Jan, I’m the place where hell and earth meet!”)

You and I are the embodied presence of Jesus here on this earth. What can I do in the next ten minutes to nurture that Presence within me?

Even wilder is this picture. When we come together to worship as Christ’s body, the walking temples gather. Together we are a cathedral of prayer, a large place where heaven and earth meet. So when I come to worship, I need to be attentive and quiet for what I can learn in this rich gathering where heaven and earth overlap and interlock. What is God showing me today?

O God, I am humbled that you come to live inside me, that I get to be a vessel for you on this planet. Bless others through me: every gesture, every word, every pause; every hug, every check I write, every judgmental word not uttered from my mouth; every wink, every “thank you,” every gift of Jesus’ steady listening gaze coming out from me. Amen.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson


[1] p. 81, 63, 64



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