Each year in June we acknowledge the Dedication of the Church of the
Transfiguration that took place on June 17, 2000. We posted earlier this month to honor that day specifically, but as this is the 20th anniversary year of the Church, some additional meditation seemed appropriate.
The Church was the culmination of a vision that had sprouted at least ten years earlier. There were years of planning and research that emerged in the final design. There were meetings with architects, sound and lighting engineers, and landscape architects. There were artists to be interviewed and employed for the fresco and mosaic work. Much of the carving and sculpture work had already been completed by Dedication. But the Church was virtually a solid framework of stone and bronze when it was dedicated.
When I thought about celebrating Dedication this year, my thoughts went back to the Dedication of the original Temple in Jerusalem. I dug back into the chapters in 1st Kings, which describe the event. It struck me that David, as great as he was, did not build the Temple. It was Solomon to whom the task was given:
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands to heaven. He said,” Oh Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on the earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand…” I Kings 8:22-24 NRSV
Solomon continues on in a long set of prayers and requests. He could have asked for many things. Here are a few of the openings to his prayers: “If someone sins against a neighbor,” “When the people Israel, having sinned against you”; “When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain because they have sinned against you….” I Kings 8 NRSV
Notice that Solomon does not say if they sin, but when they sin. He prays that when the people stumble, and repent and turn from their sin, God will be merciful and forgive them; that he will restore the relationship that was broken.
Recently we have all been living through difficult days. The corona-virus and social unrest have brought the entire population to a place of reflection. Our foundations are shaken but not destroyed. And what do all the events of recent months have to do with Dedication? I believe many of us as Christians have been part of this shaking. I have had to look at areas in my own life where I fall short and need forgiveness and the Living Jesus. But through it all, the Church stands firm.
In some mysterious way, I think we need to appropriate the solidness of the “temple”. As a forgiven people (with a continual need of forgiveness), we need to find ways to reach into the surrounding culture. Not to insulate ourselves and hunker-down, but just the opposite. Stand up and move with conviction and dedication into our confused nation. God has given each of us some way, some voice to demonstrate that He is alive. We need to be fully alive to Jesus for ourselves and the world around us.