I’m reading through the First book of Kings in the Old Testament.
Today, reading about the completion of Solomon’s temple.
The temple wasn’t Yahweh’s idea actually. King David felt bad about lavishing so much on his own house while Yahweh didn’t have a house – just a box with some stone tablets. So he proposed to Yahweh that he (David) build Yahweh a house.
Yahweh’s response was a cool one. He said “Thanks, but no thanks. But I’ll tell you what – I promise that your house (as in your family) will continue ruling Israel for as long as you walk in my ways.”
For God, it’s not about buildings, but people. God doesn’t promise to be in a building, he promises to be with his people. (Exodus 3 verse 12 for starters).
Yahweh relented and allowed that David’s son, Solomon would build a house for Yahweh.
So God didn’t choose to build a temple, David did.
And God didn’t choose the location, David did.
And now it’s finished. And Solomon is praying a kind of prayer of dedication. He makes sure to note that Yahweh is the God of heaven and earth, and not contained in a building, and yet the building’s magnificence seems to speak a different message.
When we think now about our churches, it’s actually not God’s house that we’re talking about, let’s be clear about that. The most we can say about a church building is that it is the ‘House of the People of God.’ (a vicar and writer called Richard Giles said that)
a Church building is not something we should be especially attached to, after all God isn’t – he’s attached to us, and wants us to be attached to him and to others.
Maybe we in the Northern hemisphere have a particular problem. It’s cold a lot of the time, and we like being warm and cosy in our homes, shut off from the rest of the world. So maybe that leaches into our church life and we prefer the comfort of a church building to being out in the world.
This is especially relevant at the moment as we are SO keen apparently to get back into our buildings. It almost seems like that’s more important than getting to see each other in the same physical space ?
Maybe we could keep all our buildings closed until we no longer hanker after being back inside, and until we find ways of being with each other that transcend the holy hour on a Sunday.