I've spent the last two weeks away from home -- first at Peaceful Valley Ranch in Lyons, Colorado and then last week living at Forest Avenue Family Shelter in Kansas City, MO (check out the "news" link and see St. Matthew mentioned a few times) while leading a youth work trip with Kansas City Habitat for Humanity. Both weeks were great for different reasons -- Riding horses in Colorado really helped me in finding solitude and quietness as I experienced God's presence. Working on the homes and living in the shelter really affected my life perspective. It is so easy to go into selfish mode and think that you're entitled to things. I don't think that's what God had in mind with the whole "Love me with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself" commandments.
Over the past two days I've tried to get caught up on whatever it is I didn't do over the last two weeks. I'm unpacked, I've updated the St. Matthew website, (click on the "what's new" link) put together the pictures from the Kansas City trip, wrote a new blog entry for i.ucc called "House" and even cleaned up my desk.
Oh, wait. My desk is still really messy.
(Here's the "House" blog entry:)
The word "house" has at least four meanings.
In our Bible reading for this week, 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, David is king in Jerusalem. And the word "house" has three connotations in the context of our verses. It can mean palace, temple and dynasty (as in a royal house.) We also have a fourth meaning, "an irreverent, controversial doctor who trusts no one, least of all his patients." -- according to the FOX network. (Have you all heard of the television show House? Interesting TV.)
David had been successful in wars against other nations. The Hebrew people's entry into the promised land was at least two hundred years in the past. David had a good thing going and he knew it. And it thought it was high time to do something to honor God. He thought that since he had a palace, (house) it was time for there to be a temple (house) -- instead of a tent -- for the Ark of the covenant -- the "God-box" The court prophet Nathan agreed. After sleeping on it, however, Nathan came back and said that David wouldn't build the temple. God had never asked for a temple. But God was going to build David a house -- a royal house -- that would last forever. The God-box didn't need a temple yet -- David's offspring would build that. (The FOX House doesn't figure into the passage)
David's son Solomon did go on to build the Temple. As a matter of fact, in addition to the temple to the God of Abraham he built temples to many other Gods. I think that in the long run the building didn't really matter to God. God doesn't live in buildings. God is everywhere. For that matter, I don't think the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem has anything to do with honoring God. God can get everything done without us building any kind of structure.
So back to the houses --
I wanna build you a house, God. You wanna build me a house? I'll build you a house. I don't need a house. I am a house. I'm everywhere.
I wonder. Do we try to build too much to honor God? Does God want to be in the place we think God deserves? I don't think God would take kindly to being contained. I think God is more of a "living free in the universe" type. Do you ever think that we've placed too much emphasis on the buildings? When I was growing up we could never run in the sanctuary. It was God's house. I never really bought that. I wish instead we'd stay what we really meant. "Please respect the sanctuary. We experience God's presence there because of the people, the music, the preaching and even the silence. It makes us uneasy to see what we consider hallowed ground treated poorly." I would get that. It makes sense. But "God lives here" doesn't work. God lives everywhere.I also think that God is in places we don't expect God to be. After all, if God is everywhere, the God must be in places we would assume God never goes. And no matter where we go in the universe, God got there before we did.
What would it mean if instead of concentrating on what we can do for God because we feel obligated that we would just experience God's continued presence in our lives. What if instead of making compartments for when we pay attention to God and when we dont that we just let go and encounter God everywhere -- not because we have to or because we were reminded to by our teachers and preachers -- but because we just do?
We can't control God. We can't hide from God. We can't go anywhere God is not.
We can continue to experience the unpredictable, untamed and universe-filling God. God is everywhere. Not in a house -- It's more like God is ever out there with us --still camping.