Prayer: In You, O LORD, we take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. You are our shield and our defender. With great thanksgiving, we will live this day in Your joy and Your praise. With great thanksgiving, we will rejoice in You with our hearts and our voices. Amen.
Read Ezra 3: 7 – 13
After the Israelites were returned from their capture in Babylon, they rebuilt the Temple. For many this was a time of great praise and thanksgiving. When the foundations were laid, the priests took their place as prescribed by King David and praised God with thanksgiving in their hearts. They were praising God because their Temple was once again being built which meant all Israelites could begin worshipping in the Temple. The Temple was once again their centre for worshipping God.
Yet for some of the older priests and families, this was a time of weeping. This new Temple was not like their old Temple. It was a change. The old Temple had been destroyed when the Babylonians descended upon the Israelite people. The Temple is the centre of Israelite worship. With the Temple destroyed by the Babylonians, the ability to worship was taken from them. Sure, the priests and people could worship in the synagogues they created in Babylon, but it was not the Temple.
But perhaps even in the older priests’ weeping, their weeping was also relief that the Temple was being re-built. Their tears were signs of rejoicing for the new and sadness for the loss of the old.
What about our Church? Do we weep when there are changes in the Church building? Or do we rejoice with songs and prayers with the new changes? Many of our Presbyterian Church buildings are at the age where major repair is needed yet we do not have the funds. Instead of pouring monies into an old Church building, perhaps we need to be looking at other venues we can use as our Worship Centre. We also need to remember that the Temple was the centre of the community. Our Churches must also focus on being the centre of the community. If our focus is totally upon repairing an old building, we loose sight of the work needed to be completed within the community – helping the sick, the dying, those living in poverty, and the elderly.
With each change, we must remember to give praise and thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving is what keeps our hearts in tune with God’s call to worship and to life.
The three things I am thankful for today are:
Prayer: Great God, You have given us so much. Give us one more thing-- a greatful heart. Keep our hearts in tune with day with Your call. All for Christ’s sake. Amen.