(Work)Place of Worship

By Sarah Shaul

Recently, I woke up with Francesca Battistelli’s song, Holy Spirit, playing in my head. It continued as I brushed my teeth and traveled with me during my morning commute. It followed me into my office building, rode quietly up the elevator, and hovered over my desk all morning. Even as I composed emails and filed papers, it wouldn’t go away. The words of the chorus repeated over and over:

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. / Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. / Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for: / to be overcome by Your Presence, Lord.

At first, I enjoyed the peaceful melody. After several hours of its distraction, however, I became annoyed. Why wouldn’t this worship service song go away?! “Why should it?” A quiet voice responded. “Is the Holy Spirit’s presence only permissible in a church sanctuary? Is it not needed here, too—perhaps even more so?”

While I rationally understood that the Holy Spirit’s presence was everywhere and did not stop at the church doors, I had only ever invited it into expected places: church services, Bible studies, or devotional times. I was uncomfortable with the idea of inviting—much less receiving!—the Holy Spirit into my government workplace. Unlike the worshipers in a church service, most of my coworkers didn’t believe in the Holy Spirit.

“Whether or not they believe in the Holy Spirit, He’s what they long for,” the quiet voice replied. I was reminded of one coworker whose relationship with his rebellious daughter was strained and another whose marriage was filled with more resentment than respect.  My heart ached thinking of their fruitless search for comfort in a cynical, self-centered society.  I knew where they could find lasting comfort, even if workplace policy prohibited me from telling them. I couldn’t lead them to the Comforter, I realized, but I could bring the Comforter to them.

Once again, the song replayed in my mind: no longer a catchy tune but an urgent request for divine comfort and healing.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. / Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. / Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for: / to be overcome by Your Presence, Lord.

In that moment, as I cried out to God on behalf of my despairing coworkers, my cubicle became a place of worship. My drab office was equal to the grandest cathedral: the presence of God inhabited them both. Unlike a cathedral, however, my workplace wasn’t where I had expected to find Him. But like a song stuck in my head, He was with me the whole time, waiting for me to simply listen, hear His words, and invite Him into my space.