God's Moving Day
1 Kings 5:1-4 - Now King Hiram of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father; for Hiram had always been a friend to David. Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, ‘You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune.
I've moved a lot. My husband says I am part gypsy. I like change. The parts of me that need to be settled are not attached to the homes in which I live. And so I'm fascinated by this scene in Israel. The people and sheep - so numerous that they could not count them - gathered to see God move into God's new home. "An exalted home, a place for God to dwell forever."
This is the day in the life of Israel where they formed the first buildings and grounds committee. This is the season where the congregation entered the real estate business. Solomon was fulfilling a promise that he had most certainly heard his dad repeat time and time again. A promise that if we remember was in response to David wanting to build God a house. I can't help but wonder was it ever in God's plan, on God's agenda to get into the real estate business.
In our world, this text opens up a conversation for us. Do we dare enter into it? In the Presbyterian world where I play, specifically in the northeast, our assets are wrapped up in our real estate. We own a lot of property. As we see our membership decline, our engagement in real estate keeps us from imagining being church in any other way than with a building. Our buildings, our real estate has enslaved us.
Too cynical for this grand day in Israel's history?
I can smell the BBQ and hear the children playing as they run around the outer court of the temple. I can sense the excitement of the people who were the architects and builders. I see the crowds arriving by foot with their children in one hand and their sacrifice in the other.
I see the delight in their eyes as they imagine having truly arrived as a people. They have escaped Egypt and made it through generations of judges. They have claimed their land, their space, their lot in life. And now, they are a "real" people. A settled people. A worshiping people. And their God - Their God has staked claim on this earth. God is dwelling right here, with them, on the land where they are dwelling.
And so here comes God, in the ark, up the street and the people are yelling and waving their hands. Singing and clapping. And God is moved up the steps, past the crowds, through the freshly painted columns. Then God is deposited in a place where no one can see God. The curtain is drawn.
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