David has reached the pinnacle of his career. Jerusalem has been restored to the Israelites.
You’ll recall that Jerusalem is sacred ground for the Jewish people. Outside of Shiloh, God has been traveling around in a box: the ark.
That ark is kept behind curtains, hence the reference to a tent.
God gave very specific instructions on how to build the ark in Exodus 25: 9-22 —
Have them make an acacia-wood chest. It should be forty-five inches long, twenty-seven inches wide, and twenty-seven inches high. Cover it with pure gold, inside and out, and make a gold molding all around it (Exodus 25: 10-11 CEB)
All the same, it does somehow seem incongruent that the most high sits in a box and David has a cedar house in Jerusalem.
And, so, it is natural that David would want to build a Temple for God.
Even God’s prophet Nathan, thinks it’s a good idea:
Nathan said to the king,
“Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because the LORD is with you.” (2 Samuel 7:3 CEB)
Except the LORD isn’t. Nathan is wrong. God does not expect nor want David to build a temple.
That night God comes to Nathan and says,
Go to my servant David and tell him: This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build the temple for me to live in. (2 Samuel 7:5 CEB)
God is saving the task of building the temple in Jerusalem for David’s son, Solomon.
Not everyone gets to do the glamorous jobs.
There’s an old saying that behind every successful man is a good woman.
The truth in this adage is that not everyone who contributes to the good of the world is famous or ever known.
Most are not.
The good in the world comes from the nameless, everyday people who make loving kindness and civility their modus operandi.
Leaders come and go while the rest lead ordinary lives of kindness and faith.
Jesus recognized the power among those who are unknown and powerless in his Sermon on the Mount:
blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5 NRSV)
Jesus teaches us that though we have limited control over rulers, our small actions matter.
In his travels and teachings Jesus’ emphasis on widow and tax collector, leper, Samaritan, women, and children revealed a profound respect for those society dismisses as unimportant and worthless.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
Look into the eyes of the man who mops the floors or cleans the public toilets we all appreciate when we travel. Do you see God in his eyes?
His work is important. He is doing God’s work.
Not everyone gets to do the glamorous jobs. The sacred can and often does permeate the ordinary tasks of life.
Though David wanted to build a temple worthy of God, it was not his calling.
I am reading a small book published by the UCC on what it calls legacy churches.
Legacy churches are those that seem to be at the end of their lifespan. Not all legacy churches are the same.
Listen to this description of one type of legacy church:
These churches are small and their leaders have often grown to the age when they need to hand off weekly responsibilities to those who can now shoulder those roles. The service of leadership weighs folks down at the very times in their lives when they most need to be served.” (Church Legacy & Closure Resource, p. 4)
Like David, many of us want to build a temple. We want to be a part of the glamour and glory of building the church of the twenty-first century for our worthy God.
We want to see what God dreams for Condon and we want to be a part of it.
Not everyone gets to do the glamorous jobs. Somebody has to till the soil and plant the seed.
Maybe, it’s not our job to create the new church that will grow in this place.
Maybe it’s our job to leave this field fallow for awhile. Maybe it’s our job to prepare the soil in which others will plant the seeds.
Maybe, like David, we’re not called to build a new temple.
If so, the question we must ask ourselves is this: When we are no more, what kind of legacy are we going to leave to the Condon community?
- What do we do well that you think God brags about?
- What needs are going unmet in the Condon community?
- What resources do we have that can be used by others to build up the kingdom of God?