Returning to Holy Space

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 9.26-33
26 But the four principal gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted with the responsibility for the rooms and treasuries in the house of God. 27 They would spend the night stationed around the house of God, because they had to guard it; and they had charge of the key for opening it each morning. 
28 Some of them were in charge of the articles used in the temple service; they counted them when they were brought in and when they were taken out. 29 Others were assigned to take care of the furnishings and all the other articles of the sanctuary, as well as the special flour and wine, and the olive oil, incense and spices. 30 But some of the priests took care of mixing the spices. 31 A Levite named Mattithiah, the firstborn son of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with the responsibility for baking the offering bread. 32 Some of the Kohathites, their fellow Levites, were in charge of preparing for every Sabbath the bread set out on the table. 
33 Those who were musicians, heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night. 

Reflection: Returning to Holy Space
By John Tillman

Chronicles includes genealogies of those who went into exile and those who came out. The chronicler lists those who returned with Ezra and Nehemiah and makes special note of those set apart for tasks related to temple worship.

The chronicler looked back to earlier times, when David and Samuel designated and redesigned the tasks of the Levites who took care of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle and the temples that followed were complex systems. There were gatekeepers, inventory keepers, bakers, perfumers, and architects tending to the practical needs of the space. There were also artists, musicians, teachers of the law, prophets, poets, and students, tending to the intellectual and spiritual needs of the space.

We don’t sacrifice animals in our modern worship spaces but have other complex logistics and tasks. We rely on professional and volunteer leaders to meet practical, intellectual, and spiritual needs.

The Bible presents an ideal that the place we worship God should be holy and beautiful. The Bible is also honest about the shortcomings of sacred spaces and leaders. Samuel became Israel’s spiritual leader due to corruption in Eli’s family, including financial and sexual abuse.

When Jesus entered the Temple as a babe, it was a place of music and prophecy where Anna and Simeon sang over him. When Jesus entered as a child, it was a place of debate and questions, where he amazed the elders. When Jesus entered as a man, he drove out the grift that had overtaken a space designated for spiritual seekers.

As he set free the doves, perhaps Jesus thought of his impoverished parents offering doves after his birth because they could not afford a lamb. Even in this morally and spiritually compromised space, Jesus’ ministry continued as the blind and lame came to him there for healing, and he taught there regularly.

It is hard and holy work to make space for worship. From sweeping the floor to composing the music, every task in a worship space is glorious in God’s sight. No worship space is perfect in holiness. Like Jesus, we may have a painful history with earthly Temples, the Church. We may be hurt, lamed, or blinded. Even so, Jesus calls to us.

Jesus continues his ministry in his church, healing the lamed and blinded and teaching the doubtful and questioning. Like the chronicler, we can return and rediscover holy space even after disaster and suffering.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Hallelujah! Praise the Name of the Lord, give praise, you servants of the Lord, You who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises to his Name, for it is lovely. — Psalm 136.1-3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 9-10  (Listen 7:46)
Psalms 85 (Listen 1:25)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chronicles 11-12  (Listen 12:59)Psalms 86-87 (Listen 2:17)
1 Chronicles 13-14  (Listen 4:13)Psalms 88 (Listen 1:58)

Read more about Maintaining Sacred Space
Making sacred space where humans and God can interact is a priestly duty. It is also one each believer bears today.

Read more about Where is the Love?
Where is the love in this scene? Who does Jesus love? Who or what is he fighting for?

Extra Ordinary Prayer

From John: 
Read the Bible. Reflect and pray. 

That is the two-pronged, ultra-simplified vision that we have for our readers. This week and part of next we take some time to curate and comment on some classic readings about prayer that may strengthen and encourage us in the practice of prayer.

Reflection: Extra Ordinary Prayer
By John Tillman

A kind of prayer that can have a profound difference in our lives is what Richard Foster refers to as “Ordinary Prayer.” Ordinary Prayer is anything but ordinary. It is seldom well-practiced. I would not say that we need less of any kind of prayer, but we could all use a little extra ordinary prayer.

Part of this type of prayer is putting our prayers into action. It is praying less with whispered words and more with the sweat of our brows and the work of our hands. A key part of Praying the Ordinary is the Prayer of Action.

Speaking of the Prayer of Action in his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster quotes, Jean–Nicholas Grou: “Every action performed in the sight of God because it is the will of God, and in the manner that God wills, is a prayer and indeed a better prayer than could be made in words at such times” Foster continues, “Each activity of daily life in which we stretch ourselves on behalf of others is a prayer of action…These times are lived prayer.”

We enact prayers by putting what we say to God, ask of God, and know of God into all we do. C.S Lewis noted that the woman, noisily cleaning the sanctuary of a church and distracting him as he attempted to pray during the day, was praying with action, saying, “her enacted oratio is probably worth ten times my spoken one.”

But we do not need to be serving in a church or cleaning one to enact our prayers. Foster continues:

“Another way of Praying the Ordinary is by praying throughout the ordinary experiences of life. We pick up a newspaper and are prompted to whisper a prayer of guidance for world leaders facing monumental decisions. We are visiting with friends in a school corridor or a shopping mall, and their words prompt us to lapse into prayer for them, either verbally or silently, as the circumstances dictate. We jog through our neighborhood, blessing the families who live there. We plant our garden, thanking the God of heaven for sun and rain and all good things. This is the stuff of ordinary prayer through ordinary experience.”

We carry prayer with us into every moment of our lives. As we do, may our actions be blessings not curses, carrying the good news of the gospel.

*Quotations from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples, make the voice of his praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip.— Psalm 66:7-8

Today’s Readings
1 Chr 5-6  (Listen -12:23)
Hebrews 10  (Listen -5:33)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chr 7-8 (Listen -9:04), Hebrews 11  (Listen -6:22)
1 Chr 9-10 (Listen -6:48), Hebrews 12  (Listen -4:36)

Thank You!
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Read more about Prayer as Vocation
To some, it might be a surprise that one of the primary definitions of the word “vocation” is a divine calling.

Read more about Cultivating Daily Bread
Daily bread refers to a daily need for God and purposely highlights the need for spiritual disciplines that are required for us to grow in faith.