Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ezra 3: 6

"From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet made."
Ezra 3: 6

The temple had been razed some fifty years before this scene of Joshua, Zerubabbel and the other exiles returning from Babylon. Despite the adversity and lack of a proper temple, they went ahead and gave what they had to God.

Often in our own adversity, we avoid prayer and praise of God because we don't feel 'ready'. Perhaps our failings or anger at God makes us feel unworthy, unlike the 'temples of the Holy Spirit' that we are by faith. We might think that we need to 'clean up our act' before we are worthy to turn to God. On the contrary, our salvation history gives us permission to go ahead and pray, to offer what we have to God and not worry about what we don't have yet.

At the same time, in the next verse, we find masons and workworkers hired to reconstruct the temple. God is merciful and accepts us as we are when we turn to him, but this does not therefore excuse us from endeavoring to make a fit temple for him in our hearts, bodies and souls. If God's saving presence means anything real in this material world, his influence must shape the choices we make in our lives. We will often make the wrong ones, to be sure, and we always have repentance as our stronghold; but no effort at constructing the temple surely calls in to question the depths of our belief and its relevance to the world.

Let us follow the example of the returning exiles, turning to God with our prayers and praise and cooperating with the Holy Spirit to become true vessels of God's glory in Jesus Christ.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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