In our text today, Solomon intercedes for the foreigner who has come to be in Israel because of the reputation of the Lord. The reputation of the God of Israel is the story of the power of God demonstrated when God set Israel free from slavery in Egypt. It is the story of how God defeated Israel’s powerful enemies with an outstretched hand.
Solomon sees that these saving actions of God will induce reverential fear in the people of other lands and attract them to Israel. As a visionary leader, Solomon is preparing the ground for immigrants who will come to his kingdom in the future. With a discerning spirit and deep care and concern for those under his leadership, Solomon prays for those who are yet to be a part of the community he leads. This prayer is not about the one who is praying but about the God to whom the petition is being made. God will answer the prayers of the immigrants in this Temple because the Temple bears God’s name.
We live in a time when immigration issues are regularly in the headlines. The rate of migration from less developed countries to developed and affluent nations is rising rapidly. It seems that the more this rate rises, the more the care and treatment of migrants deteriorates. In today’s reading we see the kind of leader we need in our own time—on national and international levels, as well as local and personal levels. The God we serve loves and cares for the strangers among us.
Lord, help me to love the strangers as you love them, to care for them as you care for them, and to treat them justly. Amen.
God had prevented David from building a temple in Jerusalem but then permitted David’s son Solomon to build it. In First Kings, Solomon places the ark of the covenant in the holiest place, and God’s presence descends. The psalmist rejoices in the Temple and would rather be in its courts than anywhere else because that is where God dwells. The New Testament readings remind us that the people of God have always met with resistance. The author of Ephesians compares living the Christian life to going into battle, so we must be prepared. Jesus also meets with resistance in John. His teachings are too hard for many to accept, so they abandon him. When we face resistance, therefore, we should not be surprised; but we are also not alone.
Read 1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43. How does your faith inform the hospitality you show to friends? To strangers?
Read Psalm 84. How do you find joy in the Lord? Recall a recent time when you felt a deep sense of this joy.
Read Ephesians 6:10-20. How do truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word help you live boldly as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Read John 6:56-69. How do you respond to Jesus’ question: “Does this offend you?” This teaching was hard for his disciples. Where do you struggle with it?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.