This Sunday we’ll spend time with two scripture passages in worship, one from 2nd Samuel and one from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Both have something to do with the topic of building, a topic that was on the minds of people of faith centuries ago and that continues to be on the minds of people of faith in this day and age as well. I know it’s on our minds because it’s a question that I hear from folks quite often. “What’s happening with Labor of Love?” “Do we have any updates?” “Are we close to construction?” And, given the fact that the inception of this project was many, many moons ago, that is a very reasonable question! It is a project that has been long awaited and much anticipated! We’ll talk on Sunday a little bit about our own project as it relates to building but, just as importantly, we’ll talk about God’s notions around this topic of building. What does God want from God’s people when it comes to buildings? What does God NOT want? What needs to be broken down first in order to build up? How do we know, in God’s realm, when it’s time to build? Who is the builder? What is being built? I hope you’ll ponder those thoughts and we’ll delve into this and more on Sunday!
All are welcome to worship online or in person in the Fellowship Hall at our Worship Watch Party. While local and state guidelines no longer require the wearing of masks for vaccinated individuals, it is the wisdom and decision of your pastor and Church Council to continue, for the time being, to wear masks at indoor worship. This is consistent with many other local faith communities and congregations. We have made this decision out of love, care and a desire to fully include our children in the life of the church. By continuing to wear masks when indoors at worship, we will provide the safest and most welcoming space possible for those who are not yet able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to age, access or other health concerns. We will reassess this on a regular basis knowing that we all look forward to the day when mask wearing will be behind us!
Beginning July 4th, our worship time will change from 9:00 to 10:00. Both the Watch Party on campus and the online service will switch to the new time. And on July 4th, we will return to a PBUMC tradition…outside church! It is the tradition of this congregation to move the entire service outside on the first Sunday of July. Please feel free to bring a chair or blanket if you’d like to sit on the lawn. We’ll have other chairs set up under the eaves. I’m looking forward to being with you on Sunday, online and in person, as we worship God and open our lives to God’s grace, peace and invitation!
2 Samuel 7:1-13 (NRSV)
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Ephesians 2:11-22 (NRSV)
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Questions to consider:
- What are the benefits of buildings for faith communities? What are the potential dangers or pitfalls?
- Reflect on what needs to be “torn down” in order to “build up.” What do our scripture readings say about that? What is your experience of that…within yourself and/or within a broader community?
- Where and how do these passages challenge you? Where and how do they offer a word of grace?