Monday, October 29, 2012

Surely in Temples Made with Hands...

I used to love "Built on the Rock the Church Doth Stand."  It has some great lines and a good, strong tune. 

But when I began to understand that Jesus really truly IS there in the Divine Service -- there in His word -- there in the Supper -- there in the preaching -- there in the absolving -- I began to be troubled by
Surely in temples made with hands
God the most high is not dwelling.
High above earth His temple stands,
all earthly temples excelling.
But He is dwelling here, in this building, in this nave, in this chancel, on this altar.  He is!

When I crabbed about that line to Pastor Wiest, he told me to "take it up with Paul" because it's exactly what the apostle said when he was preaching in Athens, at Mars Hill.  Well, just go and hog-tie me, Pastor Wiest!  Darn it, how can I argue with the apostle who was inspired by God to say it?

But it still bothered me.

So after church today we looked at the Greek.  And now it makes a little more sense.  All through John -- especially where Jesus talks about abiding in the word, and abiding in the Spirit, and abiding in Him, and His abiding in us -- it's a different word.  It's not the same kind of "dwell."  So often "dwelling" is "living" or "abiding" or "remaining."  But at Mars Hill, when Paul said that God does not "dwell" in earthly temples, it's more like God isn't housed in earthly temples, like, y'know, "contained."  

Well, now, that makes loads more sense. 

He does abide here in our churches.  He does remain there.  He does dwell with us there.  But He's not limited there; He's not locked up there.

So now I'm wondering what impression the song gives other people.  Maybe I'm the only one.  Maybe everybody else thinks it's a no-brainer that God is everywhere and yet at the same time is specially located in the holy place of our churches.

1 comment:

  1. I understand.

    And I understood even more singing that hymn at the last service at ULC. And I cried. And I realized that yes He does deign to dwell here, and how much worse that made the whole situation.

    But He doesn't dwell there, and it gave some comfort. But I realized how much more comforting to know where He dwells and to be able to go there.

    And I can't sing that hymn anymore without thinking of ULC. . . and crying.