This week we move from the story of Samuel and the anointing of David to be King to the time of King Solomon, David’s son.
Towards the end of David’s reign he was given the inspiration and instruction to build a place for God to reside in. This is to become the Temple at Jerusalem. David himself was not the one to build this Temple and we are told why in our first section of readings when Solomon says that his “father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him..” It was not until God has given Solomon “rest on every side” that the Temple was able to be built.
The chapters between our reading tell of the process of building the Temple as well as Solomon’s Palace and other buildings. I would encourage you to read them to try and understand this impressive building. The detail we can get from these extra passages is amazing.
Our last part of the reading tells of the festival celebrated as the Ark of the Covenant is brought to reside in the completed Temple. Great celebration was had, many sacrifices were made, the people turned out, King Solomon and the priests were present – it would have been an event to behold! This was the ‘coming home’ of the Lord and for events like this ritual and pageantry was very important. This was all about the Temple finally being finished and ready for the presence of Yahweh and for the people to recognise this as the place to worship God.
We all have special rituals or events to mark the important milestones in our lives. An easy one to think of is a birthday party. All the way through our lives we mark special birthdays, the one where we reach double figures, 16th and 21st birthdays, then maybe 25th birthday but after that the significant birthdays are the “0” birthdays. Weddings, and funeral, are celebrations of significant events. Graduations, achievements and milestones are all considered as important rites of passage through our lives.
What this reading and ritual telling has pressed me to wonder is what do we do now as we move from this time of restrictions to more freedom? How do we acknowledge all that the last 18 months have been and step into the future? We are all changed people. We are all grieving people who at one time or another lost people, opportunities, lifestyles and connection with others.
As we gather on the first Sunday of December our Christmas picnic is an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge what we’ve been through. It’s a ritual we would do each year prior to Christmas, this year it has more meaning than in the past. It will be really important for us all to gather.
One of the rituals we do here at MUC is make sure we take the time to recognised and remember the saints who have passed away over the previous 12 months. We have a few more names to remember this year than we did last year. I believe this ritual of remembrance is an important one. It is important for us all to be part of the holy practices of our community, to join in as we celebrate our whole community and all that happens within it.