Here is the Steeple

Preached July 22 at the Congregational Church in Iowa City.

Again, no final sermon text. Speaking somewhat extemporaneously seems to be working, I finally felt comfortable and in my groove again for the first time since, really, Beverly.

But this week’s sermon had to do with the temple of Solomon, and the disconnect between the prophet Nathan, who tells David that God will surely be pleased with a Temple, and God, who tells him that it is indeed flattering, but that the temple is not David’s to build. The lesson for today is that we put a lot of stock into our church buildings. We are proud of them. They are visible reminders of our history. But God reminds us here that as surely as God can find a home in a building, God was with the people outside, too. In a tent, in the wilderness, wherever people needed God, God was with them. This is a lesson that we need in the modern era; the building is great, but only if it is a vehicle for bringing God into the community. It is not enough for the building to be there; its presence must serve a purpose. Sometimes that’s a place to gather out among the houses, sometimes it’s a place to house the needy in the middle of a downtown area. Sometimes it’s providing a convenient, highway-accessible place for AA to meet on wednesday nights. But the church must always have open doors to spread God’s love. Otherwise, the building is that envisioned by Nathan: pleasing to a king, and therefore pleasing to God.

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