As we continue the saga of King David, we find the monarch mulling over his success and coming to an embarrassing realization. He is living in a fine palace; but the symbol of the Lord’s presence, the ark of the covenant, remains in a tent. David consults with his chief advisor, the prophet Nathan, and they agree that it’s time to build a proper temple for the Lord. The royal architects might have started work the very next day had it not been for the vision that Nathan had that night.
It seems that the Lord actually prefers a tent! A tent is mobile, flexible, able to respond to changing circumstances. With a tent, there are no illusions that God can be boxed in. “What do I need with a palace?” the Lord asks Nathan. “In all the years I have moved about with my people, have I ever even hinted I wanted a palace?” (AP).
Among other things, this story raises the question of what kind of house best reflects and honors the Lord God.
There is a historical marker in front of Edgehill United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN, honoring the life and ministry of Rev. Bill Barnes. Rev. Barnes was the founding pastor of this urban congregation, a church which continues to serve the city’s poor and marginalized out of a remodeled home and garage. One of Bill’s strongest commitments was to working for affordable housing. Appropriately, the historical marker includes this prophetic insight, attributed to Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador: “The temple shall remain unfinished until all are housed in dignity.”
How can we build a house that will honor God? Bill Barnes believed it was by housing the most vulnerable of God’s children.
Gracious God, grant us a vision of housing that honors you and your children. Then give us the heart and the will to build. Amen.
David was God’s anointed king over Israel. He believed God desired a house, a temple worthy of God. But God wanted David to understand that only God can build things that truly last. Thus, God promised to construct a dynasty from David’s family. From this line will eventually come the ultimate King, the Messiah, who will rule God’s people forever. The Messiah will complete God’s work of uniting all people as children of God, and the author of Ephesians declares that this has happened through Christ. All God’s people—Jew and Gentile—are now part of a holy, spiritual temple. In Mark, Jesus shows that part of being a great king is showing compassion. He puts aside his own desires to help those in need of guidance and healing.
Read 2 Samuel 7:1-14a. When have you changed your opinion on something significant? What led to the change?
Read Psalm 89:20-37. What helps you recall God’s faithfulness in times when you may feel abandoned?
Read Ephesians 2:11-22. Where have you found Christ breaking down dividing walls between groups of people? What part does your Christian community play in bringing people together?
Read Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. When have you had an experience of illness or accident that left you isolated from community? How did that increase your awareness of others in that situation as you moved to health?
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.