by Dan Kidd
In today's passage, we hear of King Solomon dedicating the temple of Jerusalem to the Lord. Notice that even from the beginning, even as Solomon was dedicating the house his people bit for the Lord, Solomon praised God; for his faithfulness to Solomon’s father, King David, his persistent “covenant of love” with his people, and the certainty of God’s faithfulness to come. Solomon devoted to God a gift of a temple wherein the Lord’s name would be and the people’s prayers would be prayed. But in doing so he acknowledges that this temple, in all its grandeur, is a paltry thing for the One who dwells over all the earth, and for whom the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain.
The temple served God’s people as a place where they could come to worship the Lord, to hear of God’s wisdom and love, to receive God’s grace and blessings, and to be restored. It is not as though the Lord could not do these things outside of, or without the temple. There’s plenty of evidence in the Bible of God’s activity outside the temple walls. But, the temple Solomon had built was a gift to the Lord, as a place where God’s people might praise and pray to him.
Throughout the centuries since, so many things have changed about the ways the Lord’s people praise and pray to God. Even from church to church there is radical diversity in our religious customs and ordinances. But, as we at UALC are generously committing our gifts to the Lord in this season, I am reminded of today’s passage. Like Solomon, we began this Together campaign by remembering and praising the Lord for how incredibly faithful he has been to our church community—from the beginning mission community that gathered in a house basement to this moment. In our small groups this week, we will take an opportunity to share with one another some of the stories of God’s faithfulness in the life of our church, and in our own lives. And, like Solomon’s temple, the gifts we’re giving in this season are a humble offering to the Lord who gave us all that we have, with the certain expectations that he will continue to be faithful as he always has been.
Likewise, we offer our gifts and devotions to the Lord knowing that he will use what we have given to bless others. This was the true value of the temple: that it aided people in gathering with one another and receiving the presence and graces of their God. That too is the gift of our church buildings. These spaces allow us to join together, shoulder to shoulder, as one family, joined together by the living Spirit of God among us, within us. I pray that the Lord will take our gifts and use them to bless his people in the years and generations to come. That these church buildings of ours would serve us and represent the unity, the love, and the faithful devotion the Lord has blessed UALC with.
Lord, may your eyes be open towards us, your church, and that when we gather we know that your Name is there. Hear the prayers your servants pray in and towards our church buildings, and everywhere else we meet. Hear the supplication of your servants, of your beloved family, when we pray. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive us. And as you have done so generously before, bless us.