"One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psalms 27:4 (NRSV)
Many years ago, on a business trip to Paris, I had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame. The first impression was the gothic cathedral’s enormity followed by its beauty; the vaulted ceilings, stained glass, sculptures, and art. Just standing there, I considered the nearly two centuries it took to build and the history that had passed since it stood; the French Revolution and two World Wars. Sadly on April 15, 2019, much of the building suffered damage from a fire. Thankfully, the damage is being repaired, and the building should be open to the public again in 2024.
Solomon also built a beautiful temple for God, which invaders destroyed. A less spectacular temple was created later, destroyed by the Romans, some 40 years after Christ’s death. It's not these edifices that God is concerned with--lovely though some are, it is the people who gather there in worship. God doesn’t need a house; he has walked in the Garden, spoken through burning bushes, and met on mountain tops. The home of the Lord is that dwelling place within each of us--our souls. The beauty of the Lord is not in elaborate structures and stained glass but the transformative power of Christ's salvation at work in us.
Like the Psalmists, the one thing we seek is to live in God’s presence and continue to grow in his wisdom. Regardless if we worship outdoors under God’s creation, in our cars at drive-up worship, in each other's homes, on Zoom, or a building we call the church, we carry His temple within us. Wherever we gather in his name, he will be in our presence.
Lord, we give you thanks for your residence in our hearts. We seek today to live continuously in your presence and come to realize the fullness of your beauty. Please be with us wherever we gather and worship in your name. Amen.