By The Rev. Rick Lord
The readings today speak of the power of sacred space to awaken our awareness of God.
The opening chapters of II Chronicles describe Solomon’s ambitious building program and the central achievement of fulfilling the dream of his ancestor David with the building the Jerusalem Temple. Today we read details of the Temple’s construction and its extraordinary splendor.
When the temple is completed, the leaders of Israel gather to offer sacrifice and worship. The priests bring the ark into the Most Holy Place and find that they cannot adequately fulfill their liturgical roles because a billowing cloud—the numinous presence of God—fills the Temple. Solomon’s dedication prayer reveals his astonishment that the God of all creation would dwell in a space built by human hands. Solomon prays that the Temple will now become a place of divine encounter, a place of prayer, forgiveness, formation, and renewal.
The Psalmist expresses gladness at the prospect of going to “the house of the Lord,” where he will give thanks for the sheer goodness of being alive in God’s full world and to pray for peace.
In the Romans passage, Paul exhorts his readers to be up and awake to what God is doing, to wear the clothing of Christ and embrace the work of love in the here and now.
Weaving though these readings are images of beauty, holiness, and engaging worship. Whether in the context of a sacred space that is magnificent with artistic resources or a space that is simple and austere, we are led to a more conscious relationship with God in those moments when the transcendent is truly encountered.
When have you experienced worship that had the quality of God’s presence “filling the Temple” – the temple of your own mind and heart?
Gracious God, thank you for the gift and beauty of the sacred spaces I have seen and known in my journey of faith. You are worthy of thanksgiving and praise at all times and in all places, Creator of heaven and earth. Amen.
The Rev. Rick Lord is rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia