"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” The psalmist does not depict Yahweh as a contractor ready to receive our blueprint for a new house. Rather, the psalmist insists that the occupants of the house welcome and invite the presence and guidance of the gracious Creator. I believe this psalm has intense relevance for households today.
Child and spousal abuse occurs more often than not within houses where families dwell. Our living rooms become dumps where media violence pours into the eyes and ears of family members. We easily allow the gods of violence and consumerism to shape the life of our households. Is the daily life of your household being formed by the God of grace and compassion?
Have you ever staged a house blessing to remind and strengthen the presence and will of Yahweh? Many times I have held the hands of celebrants as we have weaved in and out of the rooms of a newly occupied house. The faith community sings and prays that in that place the sovereignty of Yahweh will continue to hold sway.
Grace at mealtimes that serves as honest, hopeful, and healing communication comes center stage. All present will share in financial decisions and the setting of priorities. The building that the Lord does in a house is ongoing and daily as hearts and minds open anew to One who creates “all things new.”
Clearly the words of the psalmist admonish us to take stock. Is the Lord continuing to build our house? Do we daily open doors of discipline through which we invite the Lord of life? The enduring promise is not only one of willing entrance but of blessed result. Thanks be to God.
Show me new ways, O God, whereby I may receive you daily into my household, so that you may fulfill your will to bless and heal. Amen.
Ruth’s story forms part of the background of the family of Jesus. The son of Ruth and Boaz, Obed, is David’s grandfather. The women of Bethlehem rejoice with Naomi at the birth of her grandson, and the psalmist declares that children are a blessing from God. In the scriptures children are spoken of only as a blessing, never as a liability (unlike some narratives in our culture). The Hebrew writer builds upon the eternal nature of Christ’s sacrifice, proclaiming that his death was sufficient once for all. In Mark, Jesus warns his disciples not to be fooled by appearances. Those who put on a big show of piety do not impress God. God wants us instead to give from the heart, even if no one but God sees.
• Read Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17. How has your life been enriched through the diversity of people around you?
• Read Psalm 127. How do you actively ensure the shaping of your household around godly practice?
• Read Hebrews 9:24-28. What spiritual income do you draw upon to keep your faith and hope alive?
• Read Mark 12:38-44. How do you guard against duplicitous living?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.