This week’s readings leapfrog over the good and bad, the highs and lows, of David’s reign and focus on his son Solomon’s plan to build a Temple in two chapters of 1 Kings:
1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13
It’s an odd tension in scripture, and certainly in this text. God lives in the dark cloud AND Solomon builds God a house, as if God could or would be constrained and confined. God interrupts the dedication of the Temple, refusing to enter on cue in a human written script. God saves the people from slavery in Egypt. Solomon becomes more like Pharaoh when he conscripts people to labor on the Temple, fulfilling Samuel’s warning about what a king might do to the people.
We speak of the “wisdom of Solomon”, but Solomon’s Temple complicates that a bit. The legacy of the Temple, and the conflicted relationship the people have with Solomon because of it, will contribute to the division of the Kingdom.
Solomon built the Temple to last forever. We, a few years down the road, know it was destroyed after the siege of Jerusalem in 6th century BCE. Even the second temple, built to replace Solomon’s, is now ruins.
This summer on sabbatical, I traveled quite a bit in Ireland and the UK. I wandered through the ruins of many churches and monasteries, including Lindisfarne (below). Ruins are reminders that human construction is never permanent. There is beauty in what remains.
Many of us will be commemorating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, and a turning point in the Protestant Reformation. We never celebrate a schism in the church, of course. (I will be wearing my t-shirt that reads “Nailed it” underneath a picture of Luther!)
The story of Solomon’s Temple may be instructive, though, as we consider how to commemorate the Reformation. What God does is not constrained by human building, even as that human construction may be done to magnify God’s glory and splendor. What God does is not constrained when human construction turns to rubble either.
Where is the Spirit leading you this week?
Do you have any hymns, liturgy, or ideas for a Time with the Children to share?
This is also the Sunday closest to All Saints Day. How might that inform your reading of this text?
Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood and the Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church USA. Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book,There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).
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