Thought for the Day : Saturday 19 September

Thought for the Day by Anna Bland (All Hallows)

Readings: 1 Kings 8:1-30 and Acts 15:36-16.5

I enjoyed reading with a little more focus about the Ark of the Covenant being brought to the Temple during the reign of King Solomon (1 Kings 8). After reading it I wanted to pick up on a few key elements of the story that really stood out to me

The Ark was brought to the Temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles which was a feast that commemorated God’s faithfulness in the Israelites’ time in the wilderness. It looks back at their time in slavery and forward to the promised land. The placing of the Ark in the Temple was significant as it was a fulfilment of their hope – God in the Holy of Holies in their Temple. Solomon had waited for months so this celebration could happen during this significant feast that all Jewish males had to come to consider the past, present and future.

Everything in this temple was brand new except for the Ark, it symbolises the continuation of God’s faithfulness to them and their continuing commitment to following the law. A modern example of this could be the opening of Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds City Centre with all its grandeur and modern design. Rather than a temple to Mammon this is their long-awaited Temple, the home of God forever. I love the idea the old Ark that has been through the desert with them sitting at the centre of this magnificent modern building, it is symbolic of where they have come from as well as being the earthly throne of God.

Just before Solomon is about to make his speech a cloud fills the room so the priests could not perform their final services. This is God appearing as a cloud as God often does to the Israelites. In the middle of grandeur, tradition and rules I love that God is a disrupting presence as all the busy-ness and duties have to stop because people cannot see through the cloud. Perhaps God is trying to suggest that they all need to take time as individuals to appreciate the moment, stop their busying and see the wonder of what has been achieved: God is palpably with them in the Temple. Hope is fulfilled. How often do we fail to take a moment to appreciate what is happening or what we have achieved? Often people say they can’t remember much of their wedding or other significant days because they were so busy and caught up the detail they fail to take a step back and see that moment in all its fullness.

I think this passage has much to teach us as individuals, church communities and a society about looking at our current context, considering what led us to this time but also to look ahead with hope on a firm footing. The Israelites were re-committing to what has always been core to their identity, appreciating the generations that got them to where they are and had built something to symbolise a new phase. While I am not suggesting we built a Temple, perhaps all of us today could take a couple of minutes to consider:

  • What is core to who we are, what is our Ark at the centre?
  • Name a few key things that have brought us to this present moment?
  • What is our hope for the future?

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