Heaven and earth

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Glancing back to Sunday

Luke 21:25-36

33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Heaven and earth won’t pass away. That’s not the meaning of Jesus’ words. The meaning of this expression in the ancient Mediterranean is simple: as impossible as it is for heaven and earth to pass away, it is more impossible for my words to pass away.

What will pass away is this age when children are found lying lifeless in the surf, and infants are buried beneath rubble. What will pass away is the world of tribal animosities and racism. What will pass away is the slash and burning of the rainforest. What will pass away at the cruel words spoken in homes and streets. What will pass away are the tears of the bereaved.

Heaven and earth won’t pass away. Neither will the words of Jesus. The words that call us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The words that speak mercy and forgiveness. The words that call for the sharing of bread and the welcoming of the outcast. The words that say “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (not “Go and make church members,” or “Go and make Christians,” but “Go and make disciples, students, followers of the way of Christ.”)

Jesus’ words will endure, the words that say “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This age will end. This age of warring and grasping, of greeds and sorrows, of lusts and shames – this age will pass. But the heavens and earth will endure, the handiwork of the eternal: the rising and setting of suns, the swift motion of planets, the wash of waves upon shores, the cry of the wild, the beauty of the natural world, the mystery of life, the wonder of love, the laughter of children, the bonds of affection, the truth of goodness and the goodness of truth, it will endure.

This age will pass and all its discordant cries. But the creation will endure. And Jesus’ words will endure. They speak things that are eternal. They speak harmony. They speak life.


Image: Norman McMullan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

That your love may overflow

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Philippians 1:3-11

“This is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight”

On Thanksgiving it might seem more natural to pick the opening words of our reading for Sunday: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” But Paul is not just exulting in his warm and treasured relationship with his congregation at Philippi; Paul wants them to fulfill their calling.

Christians don’t have a great reputation in the popular imagination these days. We have been seen as judgmental, even hateful. Scandals among the clergy have eroded public respect for ecclesiastical institutions. Protestors with hateful signs have fed the negative perception of Christians. And when people from other religious traditions kill in the name of God, all religious life gets discredited.

Paul is deeply attached to the community in Philippi. Though they are poor and have endured opposition, they have supported his ministry and contributed generously to his appeal for the churches in Judea suffering from famine. They have manifested the life of the Spirit that flows from an encounter with the grace of God.

But Paul is not interested in simply blessing the warm fellowship of the congregation. He aspires for them to grow ever deeper in their manifestation of the love and generosity of God. He wants love to overflow.

Congregations can become content – with their friendship with one another, with the congregational program and activities, with the worship experience and preaching – and forget to overflow to the world around them. Perhaps it is the natural drift of the human heart. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the faith itself. Maybe this is why Paul says love should overflow “with knowledge and full insight” – or, perhaps better, “with clear understanding and discernment.”

We need to see truly.

In a society where Christian faith tends to be seen as a means of personal enrichment rather than an enrichment of the world, it’s important to hear Paul speak about overflowing love. And though Paul talks about being “pure and blameless” in the day of Christ, it would be a mistake to think of that as a personal and private moral propriety. Pure and blameless means pure and blameless in our fidelity to God and one another.

We need to see truly. We need love to overflow. We need to let the same mind be in [us] that was in Christ Jesus.The world desperately needs a people who live in and from the mind of Christ. The world needs people in whom and through whom God is touching the world with love.

For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”


Picture: By JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The ransomed of the Lord shall return

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Isaiah 51:4-11

The ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

We are grateful for the remarkable recovery from brain surgery of a child in the parish. Every day seems an answer to prayer. But even as we celebrate his recovery, there are parents in the congregation whose children did not recover.

I think of them as we provide each status update. I know the complicated emotions of gratefulness for others even as you grieve your own loss. When my daughter was killed, I knew the land of bitterness was nearby. There’s a story of my brother crawling through the fence on my grandparents’ farm into the pasture where the bull grazed. I can feel my mother’s fear even now as she tells that story. The land of bitterness is like that field. It’s an easy fence to cross but a terrible place to go.

Advent is for those parents whose children didn’t come home. It is for those whose hips are mending in a hospital bed. It is for those whose homes are empty or cold or absent. It is for those who flee their homeland – and those unable to flee. It is for the parents of Aylan Kurdi whose body will continue to lie in the surf as long as his image endures in our memory.

Advent is a simple promise: the sorrow of the world shall not endure. The gulf that separates the perfect realm of heaven from the troubled realm of earth will be overcome. God will come to dwell with us. Indeed, God has come to us already in the child of Nazareth, the crucified and living one.

Advent is for the parents whose children didn’t come home, and the parents whose children won’t come home, and the children who have reason to not go home. But it is also for the families that do come home, that have enjoyed in some small measure the goodness God intended for us in families. Yet even the best of families have known the ache of our fallen world. And so all are recipients of the promise that shapes this season: “the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Lift up your heads

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Watching for the Morning of November 29, 2015

Year C

The First Sunday of Advent

So much of our imagery of the end of the world seems to describe “the end of the world.” We get stuck on the four horsemen of the apocalypse and forget that the whole narrative of Revelation drives towards the vision of the New Jerusalem – the making new of the world. Maybe that’s because “the end of the world” is so common in our experience. The loss of parents, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a job – they all contain elements of a life that will never be the same, life that seems irrecoverable, life that seems at an end.

I remember how often I tried to remind my girls that some catastrophe at school or at home – a broken relationship, a broken toy or spilled milk on a report – was not “the end of the world.” But even there, “the end of the world” is equated with disaster – just a bigger one than whatever misfortune has just occurred.

Though Christianity recognizes how deep and stubborn is the rebellion in the human heart, how prolonged the labor pains might be in the birthing of God’s new world, it is about God’s world made new – restored, freed, healed, redeemed, saved. Those are all the words at the center of Christian faith, not the dark woes of apocalypticism.

There is a stunning realism in this religion accused of being “pie in the sky” – a realism about the darkness that lurks in human societies, and the wastes and wraths of our sorrows. Kings go to war, bombing villages and destroying ancient communities, disrupting food and water supplies, leading to disease and death long after the sword has passed through. Leading to the suffering of children and innocents. Leading to the birthing of hate and revenge. Leading to the birthing of despair. There is realism in Christianity.  The central story we tell is about a brutal torture and execution of an innocent man.

But the end is not the grave. The world belongs to God and not to suffering and death. We were created for joy not sorrow, for meaningful work not slave labor, for union not divorce, for a life with God in the garden not hiding in the bushes. We were created for life not death. And though we yield so easily and completely to the powers of death (revenge, hate, neglect, cruelty, greed, bitterness, and the darkest nihilism) we are creatures born of the breath of God in whom we can also see all that is glorious about our made-in-the-image-of-God humanity: love, tenderness, laughter, play, kindness, care of strangers, sharing of bread, coming to the aid of those in need.

So on the first Sunday of the year our eyes are on the horizon – not because the world ends in whimpering and silence, but because it ends in joy. And the God who comes on the horizon of history is the one who has already met us lying in a manger, and at a breakfast barbecue on the shore of Galilee.

The prayer for November 29, 2015

All earth and heaven have their beginning and end in you, O God;
you are our source and goal.
Make us ever mindful that our lives move towards your Grace,
that we might be faithful children of hope;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

The texts for November 29, 2015

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
– In the aftermath of the national catastrophe when Babylon’s armies came and crushed the nation, destroying Jerusalem and the temple of its God, the prophet rises, daring to declare that the LORD’s promise to Israel is not voided. That God will yet fulfill his promise under the banner of a true and faithful king.

Psalmody: Isaiah 51:4-11 (appointed: Psalm 25:1-10)
“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads, sorrow and sighing will flee away.” – In place of the appointed psalm, our parish sings the song of salvation from Isaiah 51 where the prophet declares that the faithfulness of God is more enduring than earth and sea and heralds the return from exile in “everlasting joy.”

Second Reading: Philippians 1:3-11 (appointed: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13)
“This is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more… so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless.” – Though Paul writes from prison, his eyes are on the fulfillment of God’s promise to establish his reign of grace and life and writes his beloved congregation, rejoicing in their faith and urging them to faithfulness.

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.” – Reading now in Luke at the beginning of a new church year, we start with eyes turned toward the horizon of human history and the promise of the ultimate dawning of God’s reign over all creation.


Image: Filippino Lippi, Archangel Gabriel in the fresco of the Annunciation, Carafa chapel.  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

One Child

Sunday Evening

I needed worship today. I needed to sing the hymns and hear the prayers and feel the presence of the community.   Maybe that’s why I had such a hard time finding the sermon. (“Finding” the sermon is my description of my process of studying and listening to the text to discern what it has to say to us on this occasion. I could always talk about the text, what’s going on in the story, the social context of the narrative, the structure of the narrative, etc, but worship isn’t Bible study. We aren’t there to learn about the text. We are there to hear the text, to let it speak to us, to let it draw us deeper into Christ, to let it shape our worship, to let it shape our lives. Sometimes we have to learn about the text in order to hear it, but the point is to hear God speaking to us through it.)

But I had trouble finding the sermon this week. When I rose to read the Gospel this morning I still hadn’t found it. When this happens to me I find that I need to come down and stand in the aisle. I need to get close to the gathered community. It helps, sometimes, to see real faces. Especially when I don’t know what I’m going to say. But, as I began to speak, I realized the problem was that this had been a very intense and personal week, but the texts were cosmic in scope. This was the feast of Christ the King. We read Daniel about the coming reign of God. We said a psalm about the kingship of God. The second reading from the opening chapter of Revelation spoke about Christ coming on the clouds. And our Gospel had Jesus before Pilate declaring his kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world.

But this wasn’t a week in which we were thinking about the grand sweep of history. This was a week in which a boy in our parish had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and rushed into surgery. He posted the brain scan on his Instagram account with the simple words “I have a brain tumor.” It scared the wits out of every adult in the parish.

Nations have been warring this week, and politicians spouting. But this had not been a week in which the nations and the consummation of human history mattered to me. What mattered was one child, one family, one desperate prayer for grace and healing. It has been a week of great international tragedies and fears, but our fear was for one boy.

It was only as I began to speak to the congregation that I found the message of the text for us. Fear is fear. Whether it is fainting with fear at what is coming on the world, or fainting before a very personal fear, fear is fear. And the message that God is God speaks to every fear. History is in God’s hands. And we are in God’s hands. And this child is in God’s hands. To our fear comes the promise that our world – and our lives – are God’s.

Jesus tells Pilate he comes as witness to the truth. The Greek version of the scriptures that was used by the nascent Christian community routinely translates the Hebrew references to the faithfulness of God with the Greek word ‘truth’. Truth is personal in the scriptures. Truth is not doctrine or propositions but the steadfastness, the faithfulness, the firmness of God. He is truth. Jesus is a witness to God’s faithfulness.

So whether our fear is at the roaring of the seas, the warring of the nations, or the very personal crises we face, God is faithful. He reigns. Not like the nations of the world. He reigns in love. And his reign is everlasting.

Every beastly empire

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Saint Michael, the Archangel, slaying the dragon


Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne,
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
10A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

The artists of the medieval church gave us graphic and frightening images of the last judgment. Christ and his apostles sit over a scene where demons drag the condemned down into the fiery pits below, while angels escort the righteous up into the heavenly city. It is an image repeated often. On the town clock in Prague a skeleton turned an hourglass at the tolling of the hour to remind us all we were one hour closer to death and judgment. The ministrations of the church were required to save you from the pits of hell and, even then, we were not ready for bliss without the millions of years required to purge us of our sinfulness.

It is a vivid image, now mostly forgotten. We live in a society where there is either no afterlife, or the afterlife is a blissful reunion with loved ones open to all. The notion we are all destined for peace is not shaken by texts such as this from Daniel – for the scripture has lost its authority. We know better. Or, at least, we prefer our own sentiments to those of the ancient world recorded in the holy books.

We think we are so much wiser than the ancients, though we still do not know how to build a pyramid. Humility is called for. And some care and caution – for most of humanity has believed for most of human history that there is accountability in the life to come for the way we have lived this life.

But careful reading of the scripture is also called for – for here, in this vivid imagery from Daniel, it is not the individual life that is called to account; it is the beastly kingdoms of the world.

The author of Daniel had very specific kingdoms in mind, writing as he did while Antiochus Epiphanes IV was seeking to “modernize” Israel’s ancient faith. In typical imperial form, he imposed his will on the people, slaying those who refused to eat pork or secretly circumcised their children. When rebellion broke out, he cleverly attacked on the Sabbath, slaughtering the mass of Judeans who refused to break the law by lifting the sword on the Sabbath.

The human imperial impulse manifests itself again and again in death. There are no end to wars, no end to the slaughter of innocents, no end to the stirring of hate and shutting of hearts and doors to those in need. And empire follows empire. The author of Daniel looks back upon Babylon, Medea, Persia and Alexander and his generals. Since then we have had Rome and Caliphates and the Imperial powers of Europe who have left such a devastating inheritance to Africa and the Middle East. We have had Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot and the American corporate empire. And, in the small spaces in between the great empires, many small terrors of every political stripe. The Arminian Genocide. Rwanda. Idi Amin. South Africa. The Congo. Isis.

Daniel’s vision is not a threat that our lives will be judged; it is a promise that kingdoms will be judged. Every tyranny shall be thrown down, every beastly empire. And, in the end, shall come an empire like “a son of man,” like a human being. An empire from God (thus the clouds) not out of the remnants of the primordial chaos (the sea). A reign of justice, faithfulness and peace. A reign of grace and life.

Daniel saw this promise embodied in a vision. We have seen this promise enfleshed in Jesus. For he brought a reign of healing and life. And he has given us his Spirit. And the day shall come when the beasts are judged and the crucified and merciful one alone shall govern. Every land. Every heart. A world made new.


Image: By Bourgogne, second quart du XIIe siècle (Neuceu) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“So you are a king?”

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Watching for the Morning of November 22, 2015

Christ the King:
Proper 29 / Lectionary 34

Year B

“So you are a king?!” Pilate must imagine himself to be immensely clever. He, the shrewd and powerful politician, he the noble and cultured Roman amidst these unsophisticated provincials, has gotten this Galilean peasant to admit his pretensions to kingship. But like everything in John’s Gospel, there are two layers of meaning to this admission. Pilate hears a zealot messiah, someone who thinks he has been granted the kingship of Judea by God. Another of the many such rabble who seem to be roaming these hills. One of the many such deluded crusaders that will bring this nation to destruction thirty years later – just as Caiaphas feared. But what Pilate seems unable to hear is that Jesus’ kingship is unlike the kingships of this world.

Pilate is a Roman version of Nicodemus, who puzzled over the literal and wondered how to get back into the womb. Only Pilate isn’t seeking truth. Pilate just hopes to get out of this rebellious and godforsaken corner of the empire with his career intact. Pilate may be a sycophant, but he understands power. He is a child of imperial Rome. Rule comes from Roman legions. The twelfth legion, in his case.

But here before him is a king unlike the kings of this world. He doesn’t take up the sword; he endures it. He doesn’t take life; he gives it. He doesn’t slay his enemies; he forgives them, reconciles them. His show of strength is hidden in frail human flesh, bleeding. He witnesses to the truth at the heart of the universe.

This Sunday is the feast day of Christ the King. Such a title could lend itself to triumphalism if it were not hidden in the mystery of the crucified.

So we read Daniel, whose vision of four beastly kingdoms rising out of the sea moves towards its climactic vision of God’s judgment of those beastly kingdoms and the arrival of a new kingdom, “one like a human being,” coming “on the clouds of heaven” – from the realm of divine not the primal chaos. And this humane kingdom is eternal.

We hear the psalmist sing, “The LORD is king!” but its exultant cry is shaped by Jesus before Pilate and by John’s witness that it is the pierced one who is ruler of the kings of the earth.

Dominion, true dominion, everlasting dominion belongs to God – a reign embodied in the one Pilate cannot see: The one who does not answer hate with hate. The one who does not answer violence with violence. The one who answers cruelty with mercy, and curses with blessing. The one who answers power with service. The one who answers our deceits with truth. The one who embodies the truth of God.

The prayer for November 22, 2015

Almighty and ever-living God,
source and goal of all that is:
in your Son, Jesus, the world is met by its true king.
Grant us ears to listen to his voice
and ever abide in your truth
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

The texts for November 22, 2015

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
“As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne.”
– The prophet’s vision of four beastly kingdoms concludes with his vision of God upon the throne and dominion given to “one like a human being” (a “son of man”).

Psalmody: Psalm 93
“The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty.” – A hymn celebrating God’s reign over all creation.

Second Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8
“Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” – The Revelation to St. John begins as a letter with its central theme of the coming of Christ Jesus to reign.

Gospel: John 18:33-38a
“My kingdom is not from this world.” – Jesus stands before Pilate accused of being a royal pretender.


Image: James Tissot, Jesus Before Pilate, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Through the night of doubt and sorrow

Sunday Evening

File:Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Tulsa, OK, Interior, Hymnal.JPGThe words of worship are profound. We sing the hymns, we pray the prayers, we say “Amen” to the words of others, but we don’t always listen to what is being said. We don’t always recognize how much is being said.

I read the words from the opening hymn today before I began my sermon. They seemed full of special meaning in light of the events of this week when gunmen stormed Paris and left so much carnage behind.

Through the night of doubt and sorrow
onward goes the pilgrim band,
singing songs of expectation,
marching to the promised land.
Clear before us through the darkness
gleams and burns the guiding light;
pilgrim clasps the hand of pilgrim
stepping fearless through the night.

One the light of God’s own presence
on the ransomed people shed,
chasing far the gloom and terror,
bright’ning all the path we tread.
One the object of our journey,
one the faith which never tires,
one the earnest looking forward,
one the hope our God inspires.

One the strain that lips of thousands
lift as from the heart of one;
one the conflict, one the peril,
one the march in God begun.
One the gladness of rejoicing
On the far eternal shore,
where the one almighty Father
reigns in love forevermore.

I chose the hymn weeks ago. The bulletin went to press before the tragedy unfolded. But here were words to speak to our sorrow, to speak of our hope, to speak of faith’s journey.

These were by no means the only words in worship to radiate with special meaning this morning. Even the words of the Apostles’ Creed or the Lord’s Prayer, said so often, so routinely, becomes a stance against terror on a day like this.

But these are words that are always profound, no matter what the moment in our lives. For we are a people who need always to be reminded of our hope, who need to be called to our path, who need the assurance that heaven sees and hears and not only weeps with us but leads us to healing and redemption.

Onward, therefore, sisters, brothers;
onward, with the cross our aid.
Bear its shame, and fight its battle
till we rest beneath its shade.
Soon shall come the great awaking,
Soon the rending of the tomb!
Then the scatt’ring of all shadows,
and the end of toil and gloom.


Image: By Sarah J Malerich (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Let us hold fast


Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25

Ryssby Church 223Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There are too many bodies in the streets of Paris. Too many bodies in the towns and cities of Syria. Too many bodies in the streets of Iraq.

There are too many hungry children, too many infected with curable diseases, too many without clean water.

There are too many who live in fear, too many who face violence, too many imprisoned by hate.

There are too many.

We should be better than this. That’s part of it. We should be better than this. Our most fundamental humanity is the ability to love, to share, to laugh, to sing, to dance, to break bread together. To form bonds of friendship and fidelity. To show compassion. To help, to heal, to teach. To pray. To touch and be touched by what is holy and beautiful and good.

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,” writes the author of Hebrews, “for he who has promised is faithful.”

Let us hold fast. When bodies lie on the ground, let us hold fast. When fear runs rampant, let us hold fast. When anger stirs towards vengeance, let us hold fast. When outrage turns towards hate, let us hold fast.

For he who has promised is faithful. God is faithful. God has promised. God has born witness to the world he creates – a world of life not death, of mercy not revenge, of truth not falsehood, of love not hate. God is faithful to that promise. Let us hold fast.

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” Let us consider how to call one another into this world God creates. Let us consider how to prod one another to do the right thing, to be the right thing. Let us consider how to encourage one another to generosity, to compassion, to kindness, to care and to truth. Let us consider. Let us provoke.

And let us not neglect “to meet together, as is the habit of some.” For it is in meeting together, in seeing faces, in shaking hands, in sharing prayers, in singing praise, in breaking bread, in hearing the Word, that we are held fast in him who is the world’s true life.

I have also written a reflection on Paris, Jesus, violence, and the human heart entitled “With twelve baskets left over” at Jacob LimpingAnd I am part of those who meet together at Los Altos Lutheran Church. You are welcome to join us in body or spirit.



What large stones

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Mark 13:1-8

1As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

We like to build monuments. From our first wooden blocks, it seems, we have the impulse to build – and to build higher. “Look Mom,” we crow. How deep can you dig a hole at the beach? How high can you build your castle of sand? Humanity’s first construction project was the tower from which to storm the gates of heaven. A tower that will make a name for ourselves.”

And so we have Trump Tower with Trump’s name not only on the building but every sweatshirt for sale in the lobby is artfully folded so that it shouts “Trump” and every book is turned so Trump’s face shines.

We are builders. Big or small we are builders. We want to build a home, a family, a legacy. We build churches. Glorious churches.

I would not give up any of them. I am inspired by their soaring heights, their ancient foundations, their simple beauty. But God didn’t send us into the world to build temples and monuments. God sent us to build communities of justice and mercy.

One of the most profound transformations that happens in Christ is the notion that the community is the temple. 1 Peter writes:

2:4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The temples we build are temporary things. The temple God builds is a people. And that temple endures into eternity.

19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:19-22)


Image: Водник at ru.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons