We are the temple of the living God …
For my personal devotions at the beginning of each day, I read from a book by Frederick Buechner, entitled “Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith.” It is alphabetical dictionary of daily readings, each focussed on a single word. I am currently in the “h’s” and Monday’s word was “holiness.” The entry begins this way …
Only God is holy, just as only people are human. God’s holiness is God’s Godness. To speak of anything else as holy is to say that it has something of God’s mark upon it. Times, places, things, and people can all be holy, and when they are, they are usually not hard to recognize.
It got me thinking about holy places. Do you have a holy place?
… a place removed from the distractions and noise and clutter of your daily routine?
… a place where you see and hear more clearly?
… a place where you know that God is because you recognize his mark, because you feel God’s presence?
… a place where you know that regardless of whatever it is that someone or something else has done or may do to you or whatever it is that you have done or may do to yourself, that here you are OK?
… a place where you feel whole, where you feel connected, where you feel peace?
… a place where you are healed, forgiven, saved?
… a place that is not at all about you, but where, more than any other place, you feel yourself?
… a place that is full of God?
I pray that you have such a place. And as I think of each person I know and love, I am praying that they may have such a place …
… a place where you will know God is.
… a place you will know who you are.
We are the temple of the living God …
We are meant to be a holy place. Wherever we are, among whomever we are, you and I are meant to be a holy place, so that whenever friends or strangers are with us …
… they will see and hear more clearly.
… they will feel connected, forgiven, healed.
… they will feel OK.
… they will know God is, because they recognize the marks, because they feel God’s presence.
If this is indeed a spiritual war, as I believe it is — not Christianity vs. Islam — but the way of peace vs. the way of violence, it must be fought, and may only be won, with spiritual “weapons:” prayer, steady resolve, unflagging attempts at reconciliation, refusal to let fear or grief, as real as they may be, diminish our hope or our joy. We will win, the earth will win, not by annihilating the enemy, but by loving the enemy, not by making war, but by making something beautiful of our selves and our world.
Answering violence with violence may make small gains and win some short-term sense of security, but in the long run, this security is illusory, and the only winner is violence itself and all of us are the losers.
Is this way expedient? Does it pass the common sense test? No … but common sense and expediency are never the arbiters of what is right. Let’s not be stronger, but wiser … and better.
Three weeks from now, I will be on my way here … returning to the Isle of Iona and the Iona Abbey for the third time. I will be taking nine companions, one of whom was with me when I brought a group from our church to Iona three years ago.
It is a powerful place: powerful to the senses, powerful to the imagination, powerful to the spirit. It is a place for awakening senses, for cleansing imagination, for refreshing spirit. It is a place to be exposed — spirit and body — to the healing graces of God. It is a place to be with God, and to be with each other with God.
I think he’s right.
Keith Olbermann has called for a boycott of both next week’s NFL draft and the Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather boxing match. He makes a good argument.
The NFL is the dominant American sports entertainment franchise, enjoying popularity as never before. On the sports talk shows, the NFL is never off-season. And the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight is being promoted as the “fight of the century.” Both events have dominated the sports headlines for weeks, even with NBA and NHL playoffs in progress.
Will we allow ourselves to be swept up by the hype along with “everybody else” and have our eyes glued to “must-see” TV? Or will we heed Olbermann’s call “to be the adults in the room” and not let serious instances of violence against women be glossed over for the sake of “fandom” … and for the sake of making money, lots of money.
What do you think? You can listen to Olbermann’s commentary by clicking the link below:
This last Sunday, I shared some of Jeanne Bishop’s story in my sermon entitled, Be the church: forgive often. In April, 1990, Jeanne’s pregnant sister and her sister’s husband were murdered in their home by a sixteen-year-old neighbor. Ms. Bishop has just published a book entitled, Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer, chronicling her journey toward forgiveness and toward the call to move beyond forgiveness into reconciliation. You may find more information about the book at http://changeofheart.wjkbooks.com.
You may also read more about Jeanne Bishop’s story in this Chicago Tribune article: Woman touched by violence believes in murderer’s redemption.