Not what I intented . . .
You know I have been traveling - first on the cruise I wrote about and then on to Raleigh to celebrate the birthdays of two grandchildren. Before and after those trips I have been busy visiting doctors for first one thing and then another. Then came the the tornado! Tonight as I write, I have different things on my mind than what I had originally intended to share. If you have been tuned into the news, you no doubt know that Hattiesburg and Petal, MS were hit hard by tornadoes last evening. We worship in Hattiesburg and live about four or five miles outside Petal. Our lives were definitely affected!
Westminster Presbyterian Church, where my son Tommy works and where we worship, was pretty much destroyed. At first we heard that windows had been blown out in the sanctuary and that some of the roof was gone. That didn't sound too bad, but as time passed and people were able to get there to assess the damage last night, word came that the damage was pretty extensive. In the light of day it was learned that we have major problems and we are waiting to learn whether we can rebuild or if what is left needs to be razed and a completely new structure be erected. In addition to the church itself, built in 1954, the property included three buildings that had originally been residences, but had been converted to other uses. One housed our youth ministry, another the Presbytery of Mississippi office and the third was home to the Christian Women's Job Corp in Hattiesburg. Those three buildings were destroyed. It has been a sad day for members and friends of the church. This afternoon my five year old granddaughter frowned as she said to me: "I'm so sad that my church is broken."
I wonder if that is how the Israelites felt about the temple in Jerusalem. When they returned to rebuild the temple, were they sad when they remembered what had been? Just Saturday I began reading Ezra in my morning readings. How appropriate! How thought provoking! In those days the temple was central in the worship of God. Do we have the same regard for our place of worship today? Does it matter whether or not we worship in a beautifully designed structure or in an auditorium look alike? Is God not present everywhere? Does our "temple of today" express our adoration for the God who made us and who redeemed us?
A dear church member called this morning to pass along some information and in our conversation she expressed her sadness at the loss of property and said that she knew we were not to be attached to "things."
My response was that worship should be central in the life of the Christian and that where we worship becomes a part of the whole experience. It is natural for us to grieve for that place where we gather with other believers to bring our worship, our praise and our gifts to God. Ezra believed that rebuildring the temple was vital to the spiritual lives of the Israelites and committed to rebuild not only the temple, but also the spritual lives of the Israelites. God blessed his efforts and led him every step of the way.
God will bless our efforts as we rebuild, as we bring what we have and who we are to honor and glorify Him.