Today's Lectionary Text
Psalm 127: 1-2Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil,
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Long before video games, kids had to play other less technical games. I often played card games. Have you ever tried to build a house of cards? It’s fun to try stacking them using triangles or squares but you need to carefully balance them, or the house falls down. Psalm 127 says: Unless the Lord builds the house, the building is in vain. My Bible has this Psalm subtitled A Prayer for the Home and also A Song of Ascents. No one knows the exact meaning of a Song of Ascents, but they could have been songs that were sung by the exiles on the journey home from Babylon. They also could have been songs that were sung as a call to worship. But regardless, the Psalms often tell of the struggle and pain the people have endured with the destruction of the temple. But God never asked for a great temple from the people. God said I don’t need buildings - I need human souls and hearts to be my house. But we hear these words again - unless the Lord builds the house, the building is in vain.
I suggest that humans put too much emphasis on the buildings we build, and the temples and churches that we create. And many are monuments to ourselves, so when the difficult times come, when the pain and sorrow overwhelm us, too often our houses are like that of cards, and they fall easily. So, what is missing? I suggest we lack love or love as the primary focus of our house, or the houses of worship we build. There is a wonderful song recorded by Martina McBride, titled “Love’s the Only House.” She sings of the world around her, she sees so much pain and hunger and lack of everything, but certainly lack of love and community, and as she struggles to see what she can do about it she invites a poor sister into her home for some warmth and a meal, and she sings: “The pain’s gotta go somewhere and Love’s the only house big enough for all of the pain in the world.” What a beautiful line, for God builds houses with the love he has shown us in Jesus Christ. You know God doesn’t worry about the appearance of the house as long as it is built with love, it doesn’t need gold and jewels and adornments. The building just needs to be built with God as partner, working alongside us in the love of family friends and community. Unless the house is built with God’s love in the foundation, and God’s love in joints and rafters, the building and the builder are working in vain. Think about it whether you are a church or an individual, who’s building your house?
-Rev. Galen Wray
Prayer for Reflection
God of love, you have given us the answer to all the pain and struggle in the world when we are asking ‘where can all the hurt go?’ Help us build lives, families and churches whose foundation is love. Love that can be shared with a hurting world. Amen.
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