Of Temples and Gardens

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 7.51
51 When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.

Reflection: Of Temples and Gardens
By John Tillman

Gardens are places where nature is maximized and brought to greater, more ordered, and more beautiful potential.

Gardens and parks are places to meet with God. They are places of planting and of sacrifice. The Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and other biblical Temples mimic and recreate the imagery of Eden’s garden. The Temple was a structure of worship, a physical liturgy that, when followed, allowed the worshiper to return to the relationship of the garden and walk with God.

The theme of gardens runs strongly throughout the scriptures.

Humanity first dwelt with God in a garden, maintaining and co-managing the garden with God. When that relationship was fractured by sin, we found ourselves excluded from the garden, unworthy to tend it or eat its fruits. The first sacrifice happened in the garden when God killed a creature to clothe humanity, covering our nakedness.

Noah began reestablishing the post-flood world by planting a vineyard, a specialized garden. In the psalms and prophets, God referred to Israel as his garden, his vineyard. Jesus amplified this imagery in his most direct (and offensive) parable against the religious leaders. He cast them as the unworthy tenants of God’s vineyard who would be cast out and killed by God the landowner.

The first drops of Christ’s propitiating blood fell in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Lamb of God began to bleed there amongst the wooded garden—the first pressing of the salvific work to come.

Jesus cared deeply about the Temple (risking death by cleansing it) yet he told the woman at Sychar that soon, it would not matter whether she worshiped on her own mountain or in Jerusalem.

That time is now. We worship not in golden colonnades, with bronze basins of water, or the blood of animals. We worship, if we do so correctly, in spirit and in truth. There is a reason we use “parks” as a metaphor. We desire to walk with God in a “garden,” a “temple” of daily disciplines.

What does the garden of your worship look like? What are you planting in your garden, with faith that God will cause gospel seeds to grow?

What is your daily liturgy? What value have you placed in your temple that reminds you to value your relationship with God? How are you decorating your worship to make it attractive and remind you of God’s blessing?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The heaven of heavens is the Lord’s, but he entrusted the earth to its peoples. — Psalm 115.16

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

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 7 (Listen – 5:10)
Ephesians 4 (Listen – 2:41)

Read more about Seeking After a Seeking God
He will meet with us in a corrupted Temple, as he met with Isaiah.

Read more about Cultivation Leads to Harvest
Cultivation leads to harvest. Harvests, when shared, lead to celebration.

From Privilege to Prisoner to Priest

Scripture Focus: Ephesians 4:1-2

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Many churches in the United States celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century. Jon provides us an excellent reflection on today’s reading in Ephesians drawn from events of Francis’s life.

Reflection: From Privilege to Prisoner to Priest
By Jon Polk

St. Francis of Assisi is generally known for his peaceful disposition and love for animals and nature. The Prayer of St. Francis (authorship uncertain, but often attributed to Francis) begins…

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

However, this devoted follower of Christ, widely regarded for his vow of poverty, did not begin life in a humble way. Francis was born in Italy around 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant and his beautiful French wife. By age 14, Francis, spoiled by luxury, dropped out of school and gained a reputation as a rebellious teen, known for drinking, partying, and vanity.

His privileged upbringing afforded him training in archery and horsemanship and when war broke out in 1202, he joined the cavalry. Having no combat experience, Francis was easily captured by opposing forces and imprisoned for a year before ransom was negotiated.

But during his time as a prisoner of war, Francis began to receive visions from God and arrived home a changed man. He turned his heart towards God and spent time in prayer, seeking direction.

Eventually, he felt the call of Christ to serve the Church and to live a life of extreme poverty—fully devoted to Christianity. He is considered by many to be one of the purest examples of living the Christian life, other than Jesus himself.

Certainly, Francis embodies Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” and to “be completely humble and gentle.”

Francis’ deep dedication and gratitude to God is seen expressed in these excerpts from a song he composed, Canticle of the Sun. May these words guide our worship and service to Christ.

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people. — Psalm 66.5

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

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 7 (Listen – 7:47)
Ephesians 4 (Listen – 3:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 8 (Listen – 10:23) Ephesians 5 (Listen – 3:42)
1 Kings 9 (Listen – 4:16) Ephesians 6 (Listen – 3:17)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about Paul’s Prayer for the Power of Faith
Give us service to perform.
Give us needs to meet.
Give us debts to cancel.
Give us trouble for which you are the only answer.



Read more about How to Know When to Give
As the Corinthians’ generosity caused Paul to celebrate, may our generosity bring joy and refreshment to those doing good in the world.