Today's Lectionary Text
I was glad when they said to me,
Jerusalem—built as a city
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Those are the exact words of this very first Bible verse I remember memorizing. It was in the 5-year-old Sunday school class at First Methodist Church in downtown Yakima, Washington. While learning that verse, we were building the outline of a church with blocks on the floor.
Psalm 122 was used by the people of God as praise and prayer for Jerusalem. We sang a form of it during a celebration of Word and Table at the Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation I attended this past week. A form of the words of the Psalm appear in song 321 in the Upper Room Worshipbook, including “Shalom, shalom, the peace of God be here. Shalom, shalom, God’s justice be ever near.” We go to the house of the Lord in joy, then, to praise God. Like 5-year-olds we march gladly, excitedly. We go to “give thanks to the name of the Lord.”
During the Academy this past week, which took place at Canyon Camp near Hinton, Oklahoma, it often felt like we were in the house of the Lord. The flaming orange trees, with fluttering leaves, blending right into the red-orange canyon walls offered clear evidence of the power of the Creator. It felt like the house of the Lord. The clear night sky, flecked with yellow stars, conveyed the majesty of God’s imagination. Being surrounded by such a sky created a huge worship space at the end of the day.
Celebrations of Thanksgiving will be taking place in many ways and places this week. Some will be around a dining room table within “the love of friends and kin.” How can that become the house of the Lord? Other observances will happen around the hospital bed of a family member being treated for a life-threatening condition. In what ways does that become the house of the God? The serving line and long tables of a homeless shelter providing the food of a feast can be the house of the Lord for the large family of God gathered there. Do we have roles within this scene?
Many places surround us that can, indeed, be houses for the Lord. They may be locations of tremendous beauty. Perhaps they are spaces of deep need. Areas of hurt and fear, large and small, can also be dwelling places for God. Places all across Kansas and Nebraska need God’s presence. Spots around the globe cry out for the holy nearness of God. God’s house will be in such places as we each allow ourselves to be vehicles for God’s love to flow into the world. In celebrating with thankful hearts this week, and as we begin waiting, once again, for the Promised One, may we each find ways to be carriers of peace and justice so our spaces may become houses of the Lord.
-- Rev. Dianne Tombaugh, retired elder
Prayer for Reflection
O God, thank you. Your gifts surround us. Make us aware. Give us insights into ways to share your deep, deep love with the world.
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