My thoughts (Keith Phillips):
Seldom do I think to express my gratitude for places. With regularity I thank God for the beauty of particular places, and I am grateful for what happens or has happened at some special place. But, for me usually, it’s as though the location itself is incidental.
This is especially true for my church. I’ve been trained to understand the church as the assembly of God’s people. The building in which we assemble seems quite secondary to me. Yet, without that place the assembling doesn’t happen so easily.
King Solomon, fulfilling the promise of his father David, had just completed the construction of a magnificent place for worship, the Temple. God’s people had gathered for its dedication. The priests had just carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies, and the other worship leaders had led the people in a wonderful time of celebration. Just then “the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (verses 13b, 14).
Wow! The presence of the Lord was so strong in that place that the worship leaders couldn’t, and did not need to, lead God’s people in worship! How powerful that must have been! The place was filled with the glory of God.
I am grateful for the church, the building as well as the people. The place where we worship is called a sanctuary, a holy place, where we can expect to encounter God and God’s glory. Hardly a Sunday goes by when I do not feel the presence of God in that place.
Sometimes, though, I have to be reminded, just as the Israelites were during the Babylonian captivity after the Temple had been destroyed, that God and God’s glory cannot be confined to a place. I can powerfully encounter God’s presence anywhere.
The pastor met a five-year-old on the street and offered to give him a quarter if he could tell him where God was. “Preacher,” said the boy, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can tell me where God is not.”
Thought for today: God, thank you for that place, the sanctuary, where I know I can encounter You. I am thankful for Your church, the place as well as the people who assemble there. I am also grateful that You and Your glory are not confined to any place. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.