Posts Tagged ‘Temple’

Only the Beginning 11-18-18

In this sermon, based on Mark 13:1-8, Jesus gets apocalyptic. This is normal at the end of the church year. Unfortunately we’re only given little glimpses but we are given the promise that we will never be left alone in it.

You can listen the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/only-the-beginning-11-18-18

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

The Grace and Peace of the Triune God is yours, now and forever. Amen

Just out of curiosity…how many of you out there were raised in the city? Any city…doesn’t matter which one? (Pause) Okay now on the flipside…how many grew up in a small rural town, or even out in the country? (pause) Okay, now I know what I’m working with.

As many of you know…I was a farm kid growing up…living a few miles outside of a town about the same size as Underwood…roughly 800 people. Now one difference was the proximity to urban areas. Around here we’ve got the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro just a few minutes down the road…but we often joked that my hometown was 3 hours from everywhere. The Twin Cities…three hours.  Des Moines…about three hours…Omaha, yep, that’s three hours. Sioux Falls…OH!!! That’s only 90 minutes. (pause)

It probably goes without saying…that in my normal day to day life growing up…I was pretty used to open fields…and the tallest structures out there were usually a silo or the local elevator if you happened to be in town.  And because of this…the rare times when I ended up in the downtown area of a city were eye opening.

I can remember being in downtown Des Moines during high school for state FFA convention…and thinking how crazy busy it was as we small town boys made our way around the skywalk.  And maybe even more memorable…my freshman year when we traveled to Chicago for a music trip…and I found myself standing on the sidewalk beside the skyscraper known then as the Sears Tower…just staring up at this monstrosity of architectural and construction achievement.

It was just so huge…I couldn’t even begin to understand how anyone would make something like that…and on the flipside…now that its there…I couldn’t imagine anything ever bringing it down. (pause) Anyone know what I’m talking about?  Standing there looking at something, whether man-made or something in nature…that is just so huge…so grand…so massively immovable, that you find yourself in awe? (Pause) Well, as we consider today’s gospel lesson, you are in good company…as Jesus and his disciples go walking out of the temple courtyard in Jerusalem.

As we start to think about this…remember that the 12 disciples were likely pretty young…maybe in their teens or 20’s…and most of them, perhaps not all, but most of them were from small towns or communities…particularly the small communities from the somewhat backwater region of Galilee…communities where the biggest structure they would ever see was the local synagogue.

But now they find themselves in the middle of the city…staring up that enormity of the temple…which by every description we have available…must have been impressive.  Keep in mind this is the 2nd temple…completed by Herod the Great a generation before…and it was comprised of many different structures and courtyards and staircases…all surrounded by a giant wall, all built over the course of decades…it must have been a site to see…and for these small town boys…I can only imagine how overwhelming it must have been…and we hear it from them…Teacher, look at these enormous, magnificent stones and amazing buildings.

I bet it was impressive…I’ve seen first-hand some of those stones that are still standing today in what’s called the Western Wall…or Wailing Wall…the only part of that entire enormous structure that is still standing…and those stones alone are huge…roughly 4 or 5 feet cubed…and solid rock…can you imagine trying to put those into place? We’d need a crane of some sort now, but they did it with basic human labor…and even more amazing…those were the smaller stones…recent work in Jerusalem has uncovered massive foundation stones that were upwards of 20 feet long and 10 feet high. (pause)

Starting to see why these simple farm boys and fishermen were so impressed? (pause) But here’s the thing…no sooner does this one random disciple make his wondrous statement to Jesus…then Jesus makes a prediction that must really rain on his parade.  You see these stones…the day will come when not one will be left on another…and then apparently with no other explanation…he walks away.

With that, we find a scene change, as Jesus and the disciples have gone out of the temple area and crossed the Kidron valley to the east…and then plopped themselves down on the Mount of Olives…a vantage point where they can see the glory of the temple mount from a distance…and the first four disciples that Jesus called…Peter and James and John and Andrew…the epitome of the backwater country bumpkins…they figure its up to them to figure out how this is all gonna happen.

Master…what will be the sign that this is about to take place? (Pause) It seems that they want to know what it is they better be looking for…because anything that is massive enough or strong enough to destroy the utter gloriousness of the temple mount…well that’s probably gonna be a bad thing isn’t it?

But Jesus doesn’t really give them a straight answer does he? He starts off with a warning that they not allow themselves to be led astray…and then he gives warnings about wars that will come and go…and nations rising up against nation…and natural disasters…and all kinds of stuff. Stuff that sounds…REALLY BAD…stuff that if we found ourselves on the receiving end of it…would be something we’d call “the end of the world.” And, to be honest…isn’t that type of thing what we all hope we’ve got a little advanced warning for? (pause)

Now…this first portion of chapter 13 is actually part of a larger account of Jesus teaching the disciples about (air quote this) “the end times.” And the fact that we run into it here in late November is quite normal…as we come to the end of another church year, we always run into these texts…texts often described as “apocalyptic” in nature…texts which we all commonly think of as describing those end times.

And after many different conversations with people based on this type of text over the years…I know its pretty common for all of us to hear them and think “well that doesn’t sound good…but it also doesn’t give us a whole to go on either.” And isn’t that true? I mean, its so true…and fairly universal interest in it is so real…that many people have made attempts to explain it away…even “read the code” to uncover just when it’ll happen…and how all the bad stuff that happens in the world…whether natural disasters or human centered misery…is actually a roadmap that points to just when “the end” often called the rapture…is going to be.

I always chuckle and shake my head when I hear these predictions on the news…and then I flat out laugh when the day comes and goes and the person who made the prediction in the first place sheepishly reports “We may have misread the signs.”  DUH!

But all sarcasm aside…I think it is human nature to look at the state of the world…to see horrible event after horrible event and think…Well this must be the end.  Oh no…well now this one is it…Oh I guess not, but THIS time is it right? (pause)

Maybe, just maybe, we humans have a really hard time seeing beyond whatever is staring us right in the face…whether its marveling at giant buildings or natural features like mountains or cliffs that we think will never be knocked down…or on the other end of thing to see forces at work which we are powerless to stop…like category 5 hurricanes or tsunamis or even the apparently blind hatred expressed by one group for another group.  And as we witness these different things we can only think “this is it” and nothing I can think or do or say is going to change it.

And that’s daunting isn’t it?  And maybe, just maybe, if we bring things down to a smaller scale we begin to realize that sheer size or magnitude isn’t the sole factor either.  Think about the lost job.  Or the cancer diagnosis.  Or the balance due notice…or the family standing at a graveside to bury their loved one…those moments when it feels like life is over, even as the rest of the world is going on about their business.  Are the dire feelings that come with those moments any less real than the sense the disciples felt when Jesus tells them the temple will be destroyed? (pause)

So are we in “the end times?”   Is Jesus about to come back? Well…I hope so…but honestly I don’t think so…and I don’t think that’s the point of all these different apocalyptic texts in the first place. Something that we especially see if we pay attention to Jesus’ final statement in today’s little section of this larger teaching.  This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. (pause) This is the beginning.

I am, as you may have noticed…a guy…and I will never ever know the pain and agony of childbirth…and honestly, as my two kids were born by c-section I’ve never really been adjacent to it either.  But I do remember a mom being induced at 6am the day after my son was born…and she walked the halls of that OB ward in the hospital for more than 25 hours before finally going to delivery…and then spending 2.5 hours pushing before her baby was born…and I can only imagine that for her…or for any of you moms out there that went through labor…that in the midst of it…it must feel like an eternity and that it will NEVER end.

And yet it does…and at the end…there is new life in that child…and maybe, just maybe…that’s what we need to remember as we consider these troublesome texts that point towards something unknown, but seemingly pretty earth shattering…just as labor pains leads to the joy of new life…it would seem that there’s new life on the other side of this unknown future that’s coming…and the idea of looking for something good and wonderful and joyful on the other side of things…there’s a name for that…Hope.

Now as followers of Christ…we’ve been given a promise…an assurance that the kingdom of heaven has come near to us…that it is here now and that we are invited into it…and at the same time we are also promised that there are aspects of this kingdom that haven’t come around yet…and that whatever they are…they lie out there on the other side of that unknown future…and for many of us, they lie on the other side of the boundary of death…and because of these promises of Christ…we hope…we are united by our common hope in this promised but unrealized future.

And there’s one more little detail from today’s story that points us in this direction. Jesus and the disciples are sitting on top of the Mount of Olives, looking across the valley at the Temple…now the temple pointed them towards God…it was the place where God is…the sign of God’s presence and God’s promises…that’s what they were looking at.

But the valley that lies between them…even back then…was a graveyard…and it still is today…they sat on one mountain…looking across the literal presence of death…and beyond it was the embodiment of hope.

I can’t tell you what that embodiment is for you. Maybe it’s the cross…or maybe it’s a song that’s especially meaningful for you…or maybe it’s the truth that is revealed to you in the scriptures…or maybe it’s the sacraments…the washing in the waters of baptism and the shared meal of holy communion…those physical elements that combine with the promises of God to reveal the reality of God’s grace and love for you…made real through the life death and resurrection of Jesus.

Remember these promises are made for you and TO you…not just once, but always…and we are given these blessings and mercies…new every morning.  No matter what the situation is…remember…this is only the beginning.  Let us live out this day…let us live out every day which will follow…and let us experience whatever it is that lies on the other side of this existence as we know it…secure in the hope given to us through the promises of Jesus Christ. Amen

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You Are Seen 11-11-18

In this sermon, based on Mark 12:38-44, I explore an odd little passage including a warning from Jesus and the Widow’s mite.  This passage seems to offer a rebuke to a system that exists in order to perpetuate itself, but there is good news to be found here as well.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/you-are-seen-11-11-18

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

The grace and peace of the Triune God be yours, now and forever. Amen

Anyone out there have catch-phrases or words that you still use that have gone out of style?  I know I’m guilty of that…Groovy is a big one…I say that a lot…Awesome…which is probably still acceptable although whenever I say it I’ve got the early 90’s version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the back of my head.

On occasion cool-beans comes out of my mouth when I like the sound of something…and on the flip side I call things Bad-chicken, which is a throwback to lingo at a job that I worked more than a dozen years ago. But perhaps the one that is looming most prominently in my head happens when I’m with my buddies that I grew up with…especially if we’re playing a game of some sort…when one of us pulls off something impressive…we’ll boastful ask “Who’s the man?” to which the other guys have to respond “You the man.”  (pause) You are the man.

Now that statement is interesting…because it just came up in the confirmation class a week ago as we’re making our way through the Biblical Narrative…and we were talking about King David and his story that take place about a 1000 years before Jesus.  There’s a encounter, following some of David’s less than stellar moments, with the prophet Nathan, who tells David a story about a rich guy who’s got everything and his poor neighbor who only has one lamb that he loves more than anything…and the rich man takes the lamb and serves it in a banquet for his friends.

Now when David hears this story, he gets riled up and curses the rich man in the story…only to have Nathan look him in the eye and say “you are the man.”  David realizes the depth of his mistakes…the impact of his sins and he mournfully repents. (pause) Ever had a moment like that…when someone points out something significant that hits close to home…something that was sitting in a blind spot…but the moment they point it out, its convicting?  It’s a humbling feeling isn’t it? (pause)

I imagine though…you’re probably wondering what this has to do with the gospel lesson we’ve shared today…because the story of Jesus warning his disciples about the scribes leading into the story of the poor widow placing her last two coins into the treasury doesn’t really seem to have much to do with King David or random phrases…at least not at face value, but bear with me for just a little bit.

Beware the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces…and have the best seats in the synagogue and places of honor at banquets…they devour widow’s houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.

Now…who do we know that tends to wear specialized outfits…and has a bit of an abnormal title connected to their name…who do we know that has a specific, perhaps considered “special” spot in the sanctuary…and even rattles off lengthy prayers during worship each week? (Pause)

I’ll admit it…the more I read this passage in preparation for today…especially this first portion…the more I heard “You are the man” in the back of my head and not in the positive “I just did something cool on the basketball court” kinda way…but in the “I’m King David and I screwed up” kinda way.

Because in the interest of full disclosure…I have my moments when this is pretty spot on…moments when I get a big head, or when a sense of entitlement creeps up because of the role that I’ve been given. I’m not proud of it…but it does happen…that crazy thing known as pride that’s evidence of my brokenness and my sinful nature.

And so this passage really makes me sit up and pay attention…but, the passage doesn’t end with that warning from Jesus does it? We hear following this brief teaching moment, he sits down across from the offering box in the temple…watching as people walk by and toss in their offerings.  Apparently some of the rich are pulling out their money bags and are tossing in healthy amounts…but then a woman walks up, takes a look at the two tiny coins in her possession…and drops them in the box.

Now this is one of those moments when I wish I was Jesus…because he seems to know a lot about this woman and her situation…information that we just aren’t privy to.  He seems to know that she’s a widow…she’s alone…and these two coins are the entirety of her finances…and she drops them in the offering plate.

The thing about this story…is that its become synonymous with the idea of sacrificial giving…often times featured in stewardship drives because of the way that, at face value anyway, Jesus SEEMS to praise her gift above the much larger sums also being given by the rich.

But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. I think Jesus is pointing out a flaw in the system…that this poor woman, seemingly with no other way of supporting herself…gives everything…essentially giving her life…making herself a financial martyr to the temple…if not an actual one when she starves to death.

Here’s why I wish I knew what Jesus knew…because I wish I knew what the widow’s motivation was to place her last two coins into the treasury.  Was she giving joyfully?  Or was she feeling shamed by seeing the large amounts given by others?  Or was she giving out of a sense of obligation to a system that demanded it? A system that was supposed to protect and provide for her…but as we heard in the first portion…a system that enables those with power and authority and prestige to take advantage of the powerless, just like this woman. (pause)

I thought a lot about that this week…the idea of a system, which seemed to exist only to perpetuate itself.  Many scholars have written at great length about the flaws of the temple system in Jesus’ day…something that he himself butted up against in many moments of debate or teaching or even violent outbursts like the cleansing of the temple.

Any funny enough…we’re given just a tiny glimpse of the eventual outcome of that flawed system in the very next portion of the story that follows this…a story that we’ll hear next week…as Jesus dashes the wonder of his disciples who are marveling at the glorious nature of the temple when he tells them that the whole thing is destined for destruction.

And so let’s think about the woman again…what’s she doing? What’s her motivation? Is she giving to a system that has hammered this obligation into her that’s destined for destruction?  Or is she giving cheerfully to something that she believes represents the ongoing action of God within this broken world that she’s a part of? We don’t know.

Now, I’m not trying to turn this into a stewardship sermon…I’m really not…but what I will say is this…there’s a big difference between giving anything to a broken system that will only exploit you to perpetuate itself even though its dying, and giving to the living embodiment of God’s action in the world.

And as I say that, I wonder if anyone else is hearing a little voice in the back of your head saying “You are the man.”  Because in many ways…we are that broken system.  The church is facing a tough tough reality…both the church as a whole, particularly here in North America…and even our congregation. I don’t say this to be a downer…but I think its true. I think the church, as it has existed in the past century or so…is dying.

But even as you hear me say that…hear this as well…we have a God who specializes in bringing new life out of death…and I believe that this is the case for the church as well…because the church IS the living embodiment of God’s action in the world…broken and flawed to be sure…because it is made up of broken and flawed people…and yet…God has continued to guide and use the church over the course of the past 2000 years…and I’m pretty sure its going to continue on long after every one of us in this room is dead and gone.

Just as the Jewish faith and culture continued on after the Temple was destroyed…the church will continue on as well…its just gonna look different. And we don’t know what its gonna look like. (pause)

Now in the meantime…as we consider this rather sobering reality…perhaps you’re wondering if there’s any good news to be found within this gospel today…because while we expect the scriptures to convict us, we also expect them to give us hope…and maybe here’s where we find it.

In the midst of the whole situation that happened that day…and even in the midst of the entire ongoing, broken and flawed system of the temple that Jesus witnessed that day…even if no one else noticed…Jesus saw the woman. He…sees…her.

The man, who is also God, took notice.  She is seen, even as every other cultural and systematic detail pushes her to the side and makes her invisible…she is still seen.  And so are you.

Maybe this text is troublesome…and maybe the message that I have shared today is also troublesome…and perhaps you find yourself in a state where things feel like they are going wrong and you wonder if anyone notices…and if that is the case, then remember that you are seen…and that no matter how insurmountable the situation…you will never be abandoned by the one who has acted out of divine love for you…and in everything, remember that there is nothing in all creation…not poverty…not brokenness…not our flaws and failures…not the powers that seem to stack the deck against us…not even death can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  In the midst of it all, even when it doesn’t feel like it…you are seen by one who loves you. Amen.

He’s Out There 11-17-13

This sermon is based on Luke 21:5-17. Jesus discusses the coming destruction of the temple as well as what can be expected in “the last days.” I tackle it from the perspective of the loss of certain places that are meaningful for us, and how tough that can be, but that God is not limited to a place.

You can listen to the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/hes-out-there-11-17-13

You can also read along with the sermon here. Disregard the off punctuation and indications to pause. I gotta remember to do them somehow.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Last Monday was, of course, veterans day…a day when we stop and recognize those brave men and women who have served their country in the military…placing themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedoms.
Although I have had inklings over the years of serving in the military, and even did a little bit of research into the military chaplaincy program a few years back, I never went down that road…I never put on a uniform…I just never felt that calling…yet I have tremendous respect for those that have.
When I think back over my life, there is one moment that comes to mind when I felt the closest thing I’ll likely ever feel to the sense of honor and pride in being a military man…about 2 years ago, my family and I had the opportunity to travel out to northern Virginia and Washington DC. One of the days that we were there, we visited Arlington Cemetery…the resting place of thousands of our nations finest…it was a humbling experience, walking those grounds…but the highlight for me was when we spent some time at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
If you’ve never been to this amazing place, I certainly recommend it…a stone tomb stands on its own in an open courtyard…and a Soldier marches slowly and rigidly back and forth…guarding the tomb…I sat on the steps in front of that courtyard…and the enormity of military service…of those that have given their lives for our country…hit me…it was a very solemn…very humbling moment for me…one that I had never experienced before…and one that I have not experienced since.  And that specific place will forever hold special meaning to me. (pause)
I’m guessing that we all have memories of places like that…places where unique, special events happened…places where our lives were changed. Sometimes we can visit those places again…but sometimes we can’t.  I think back over my own life, and specially my life of faith, and there are some places that stand out.
One is Bethel Lutheran Church in Graettinger, IA. I was baptized there…raised there…but when I was in 5th grade, there was a fire at the church…and the sanctuary…including the font in which I was baptized…was destroyed…I don’t remember my baptism…and now I can’t go back to visit the place where it happened.
Another important milestone for me was my first communion…It happened the same year as that church fire…and my church was worshiping in the Catholic church in town…my first communion happened in a Catholic Church…strange I realize…and difficult, though not impossible, to go back and visit.
Another one that comes to mind is my wedding. Emily and I were married at First Lutheran Church in Milford, IA…and about 5 years later, the congregation completed construction on a new facility…we moved out of the old church where we were married…and where our son was baptized…and the old building was sold to another congregation…and I’ve never again set foot in that wonderful place where my life was changed.
I think about those places…those places where God did some amazing things in my life…and it saddens me to think that I can’t just go back there…because they are so meaningful to me.
In today’s scripture lesson, Jesus hints at a similar situation for the entire Jewish culture…the destruction of the temple. These things you see…the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another…all will be thrown down.  This beautiful place will be no more.
Now, its important to realize just how vital the temple was for the Jewish culture…it was literally the center of life.  It is true that by Jesus’ time the majority of worship and learning happened at the local synagogues…but the center for religious life was still the temple.
The temple is where the Priests did their work…everyone in Jerusalem worshiped there…Jewish people would travel from all over the known world for religious festivals…and not only that…but God lived there…that was the belief.
The temple, as a whole, was huge…the outer courtyards where large enough to hold crowds of up to 400,000 people…but as you moved inwards, each section of the temple got smaller…and so did the “guest list.”  Anyone could enter into the outer courtyards…anyone.  Then you entered the actual building where there was a courtyard that only Jewish people could enter…then another that only Jewish men could enter…sorry ladies…after that came another area that only the priests could enter…and finally, behind a curtain, was the Holy of Holies…the place where God was…only the high priest could pass this curtain…and only one day a year…and the people were so afraid to actually approach God that they would tie a rope around the high priest…that way if he died in God’s presence, they could pull him back out again.
God lived there…that was where God could be found…where God could be approached…only behind the curtain, in the innermost chamber of the temple…and only a priest could go there. (pause)
But regardless of the restrictions placed on entry into the different sections…this was a holy place…this was a symbol for the Jewish people…and not just a symbol…it was where you went to find God…to worship God…it was THE place.
And in today’s story…Jesus foretells of the destruction of the temple…and unlike Matthew or Mark’s account of this story, he’s not being metaphorical, speaking about the temple of his body which would destroyed…but here in Luke, Jesus is literally speaking about the temple itself…and he was right…about 40 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus…the temple was utterly destroyed by the Romans…and that holy place…that place where the Jewish people went to find God…was gone.
Just think about how difficult that must have been for the people…not only at the time that the temple was actually destroyed, but also those sitting there that day…listening to Jesus speak about it…it had to have been devastating.
Think about those examples of the special places where God has encountered you in your lifetime…are they still around…are they still accessible?  Can you go to visit them again…or like the church where I was baptized…have they been destroyed…wiped out…whether by accident or on purpose…eventually…those important places in our lives…will disappear.
Perhaps it’s difficult to think about…but one day…this sanctuary won’t be here.  I don’t pretend to know the future…I don’t know the how or the why or the when…but at some point in the future something will happen, and this place of worship…this place of so many happy memories…of so many moving experiencing in countless individuals lives of faith…one day…it won’t be here anymore…and that’s a sad reality…fortunately it is one that we are not facing today, or anytime soon in the future…but someday it will happen.
And that can really be a devastating thought…and unfortunately for many churches…many congregations…that is a reality that they face each and every year…when the doors close…or when tragedy strikes.
I used to serve a very small country church with monthly pulpit supply. For about 18 months I would head out, one Sunday a month, to fill the role of leading worship, and over the course of that time, I got to know this tiny group of about 15 or 20 members quite well.  Eventually the time came when they closed the doors of the church…and it was truly a sad day for them.
In a conversation that happened shortly after the congregation closed, I asked one of the former members how they were doing…how they felt about the whole deal…and though they had found a new church home…a new congregation to join, they expressed the feeling of how hard it was to find God in a new place…not impossible…but difficult because that little country church had been the place for them…it had been the place where they had found God for so long…and over so many different experiences.
This is a sad reality…but it raises a point that is important to make…as wonderful as the buildings are…with all of their memories and experiences…God is not the building…and the building is not God…I look around this sanctuary, beautiful as it is…I think of wonderful memories that I’ve already made in my short time here…and I wonder about the countless memories and faith-filled experiences that you all possess…and as amazing as all of that is…it is not God. (pause)
Because God isn’t limited to a building…if, heaven forbid…something happened tomorrow and the building wasn’t here…devastating as that may be, I believe that Underwood Lutheran Church would continue…because the church…is not the building…it just happens to be sitting in it right now.  We are the church…
Remember those famous words uttered by Jesus. Where ever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also…
God isn’t limited anymore…God’s not just in the temple…and we don’t need to go to a specific place to find him…things have changed.  (pause)
We’re coming up on the end of the church year…the season of Pentecost is almost over, just a couple more weeks…in in December, we’ll enter Advent, the beginning of a new church year…and with it the lectionary will switch over to Matthew…we’ll be done with Luke…and perhaps that’s evident with where we are in Luke’s Gospel…Jesus is already in Jerusalem…the triumphal entry, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday…has already happened…and in fact, we’re only 1 chapter away from the betrayal and arrest of Jesus.
You know, I’ve always thought that the liturgical calendar and the lectionary are set up a little strangely…we get right up to the events in Jesus’ life that lead to his death and resurrection…but then we switch things up…and we don’t hear about those events for a few months…not till Lent, and Holy Week…and that can be a little frustrating.
But when we come back around to it…and the scripture lesson for today…its important to be thinking about those events…and particularly relevant today as we talk about the temple…is what happened on Good Friday…at the moment that Jesus died…hanging on that cross…the curtain…remember the curtain…it guarded the inner room…the Holy of Holies…the place where God was…the curtain divided God from humanity…and when Jesus died…that thing ripped in half…the curtain was gone…the barrier between God and humanity was destroyed.
In that moment…God decided to get out and stretch his legs…they might as well have hung up a sign that said “Are you looking for God…sorry, He’s not here anymore…He’s out there.”
In Christ…God put on flesh and walked around…and when that curtain was torn…the last barrier between God and humanity was destroyed…and that barrier…was sin and death…in Jesus death…we are brought to life…and we know that there is nothing that stands in our way of approaching God.
We don’t have to go anywhere special. We don’t have to go through anyone else…we can do it ourselves…and regardless of where we are…when we gather together in the name of Jesus…He’s there too…the one that placed himself in harm’s way…the one that sacrificed himself for our freedom…not from tyranny, oppression or persecution…but from annihilation…from death and destruction.
We are truly blessed to be able to gather here…each and every week…in this beautiful sanctuary to worship our Lord and Savior…and we know that when we gather together in His Name…he is here…but we also know…that he’s not just in here…he’s out there too…whenever we gather together. Amen.