“Live and in person” Advent devotion for December 12, 2020. Read 1 Kings 8:10-11 and Psalm 11.
Finally, after seven years of construction, the temple in Jerusalem is finished and furnished. Priests bring the ark of the covenant into the inner sanctuary. “When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10,11). The cloud of God’s presence which had covered Mt. Sinai, had led the people through the desert and had filled the tabernacle now took up residence in the magnificent temple built by Solomon.
Solomon’s dedication prayer recognizes that the God of all creation certainly cannot be contained in a structure built by human hands. Yet for this occasion, God was indeed with them in a holy place only he could occupy. In the years to come, Solomon hoped that whenever there was trouble, the people would pray towards that place to remember God’s presence and receive his grace.
Many of you reading this probably remember “glorious” churches where you have worshiped. I remember the dedication of a new sanctuary for the church where I grew up. It seemed so big and the music was like nothing I had ever heard. I remember the dedication of the new sanctuary where I currently serve. It too was so big compared with where we previously gathered.
Many of you might also remember some of the glorious moments in churches where you worshiped. I vividly recall churches where I played trumpet with enormous, powerful organs whose sound filled every inch of the worship space. I have wonderful memories of baptizing, confirming, and marrying my children. I treasure the awesome moment of laying my hands on my son’s head, ordaining him into the ministry. I also can’t forget glorious moments on mission trips to Haiti or Kenya, where I worshiped in structures with tin roofs and dirt floors.
I’ll bet every believer has been in a space that seemed to be occupied by God. Or a moment when God seemed especially close. If God is indeed bigger than the universe He created and can do more than we ask or imagine, why would He choose to squeeze Himself into a temple, sanctuary or even a modest chapel? For that matter, why would He squeeze Himself into the human form of a baby born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth and crucified on Calvary? He must really want to be with us, live and in person!
Thank You, Lord, for the moments and spaces You have filled with Your presence. Amen.