Lectionary: 1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43; Psalm 84; Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18; Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69
Due to a busy schedule this is an abbreviated (and late) version of Sunday Pause. However, in the mystery of God, it is one that has particularly spoken to me. I hope it speaks to you.
The readings today centre around the idea of God’s presence with us. You will recall from the book of Genesis that God’s initial desire was to live with his crowning Creation, the humans Adam and Eve, but their power-move to know both good and evil causes a separation.
Later in the biblical narrative God’s Presence is pictured as more isolated, carried nomadically and symbolically from place to place in the Ark of the Covenant and then placed in an inaccessible room of the Temple. What we learn through the journey of Scripture is that God doesn’t leave things like this but rather begins inching his Creation back toward his full Presence.
And so we come to Jesus, God’s icon, his physical Presence. Jesus indicates in the John 6 reading from the Lectionary that the purity of God’s love means he allows us the option of welcoming or rejecting that Presence.
It would be good for us to think through the following question Jesus is asking, and to consider for ourselves (as Peter did) the weight of our response to him.
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’ – from John 6
Psalm 84 thinking of yourself as his dwelling place:
How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you.