Scripture for Sunday, 23 August: 1 Kings 8:22-30,41-43 (Solomon’s dedication of the temple); Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20 (putting on the armour of God); John 6:56-69 (the final verses of the chapter of the ‘bread of life’ in which the followers of Jesus find his teaching too difficult and wander away).
“Every morning, I pray that people will know something of the nature of God from the way I behave. Every day, I pray that I may enlarge the opening for the presence of God wherever I go. By the Grace of God, may I be a transparent conduit for the light and love of the Creator, may I be a servant of the poor and the rich, may I hear my name and obey.”
These words were written by a friend as she contemplated her own mortality, and reflected upon what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. Her words demonstrate how we build a temple, a church: one life at a time.
Not all can digest the body and blood of Jesus easily – his words are difficult; his teaching controversial then and now; he refused to engage in politics, yet his words in action run directly into politics: he died as the result of a political death sentence. The idea of radical concern for all people, rich and poor alike, male and female alike, healthy and sick alike is very demanding of us. Yet Jesus demonstrated a love for all, even those who turned away from him.
It is tempting to try to pick around the diet of Christ’s body and blood – but we cannot. We either take it, or leave it. Many do just that: leave. Yet, for the faithful, as for Peter when offered the chance to leave, we ask: Where else can we go?
Then, once we accept, and become followers, we are challenged to become builders of the Church, of the new temple of the new people of Israel. We co-create this temple, in partnership with God. As my friend said, “If we are the only gospel some people will ever read; what have I written with my life?”
This temple, this church, built with our lives, is meant to embody and echo the words of dedication of Solomon, having built his temple: God is here; and God is everywhere, and God cannot be contained, but all are welcome at this special place to show that they wish to come before God in humility.
This is the church, alive, fed by Christ’s body and blood, built by each of us, not one stone, or brick at a time, but one life at a time.