His Presence, Our Beauty

Scripture Focus: Exodus 26:30, 33-34
30 “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain…33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. 34 Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. 

Reflection: His Presence, Our Beauty
By Erin Newton

Amid the desert, the Tabernacle was an oasis of color. Blue, purple, red. Against the dull hues of brown rocks and sandy ground, there would be the shimmer of gold, silver, and bronze. Where God dwelt with his people, there would be beauty.

It’s easy to get lost in the detailed blueprint for the tabernacle. If we collect all the materials together, it is an array of beauty. There are acacia frames and wooden cross bars. Hooks and clasps in precious metals. Fine linen in jewel-toned colors of a sunset just before the darkness of night.

This is how God chose to be with his people—among the drab backdrop of a desert, he created a vibrant refuge. It is the extraordinary among the ordinary.

God dwelt with his people in the most inhospitable places. In a place without life, God would sustain them with food and water. Day after day after day. All the while, he traveled with them. He guided them. He dwelt with them. The Creator nestled among the created.

As time carried on, the presence of God moved to the permanent Temple. Surrounded by scenes of a garden—it was filled with palm trees and floral designs, cedar walls and golden details, images of the same winged creatures that guarded the entrance to Eden.

Then his presence moved among the people once again. Jesus tabernacled in the fabric of a human body with sunkissed skin of deep brown hues.

Upon the cross, the jewel-toned hues were seen once more. Blue and purple bruises marred his beaten body. Scarlet red blood dripped from his head, hands, feet, and side. His body, disfigured with the vibrant colors of royalty, hung on a cross in the most humble of deaths.

The dark night and shadowed tomb would not hold his presence. As promised, he took up residence in the hearts of every believer. Like the bright golden tongues of fire, the Spirit fell upon the people. He came to dwell again in a lonely place, bringing life and beauty to our souls.

And so, he has remained, in the hearts of every one of us.

He brings life to our mortal bodies. He clothes us in the rich hues of his grace. Among the prism of colors God brings to his people, he clothes us in white—the full intensity of all colors all at once. His presence is our crowning beauty.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another… — Psalm 90.1

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

Today’s Reading
Exodus 26 (Listen 4:18)
Luke 8(Listen 8:09)

Read more about Of Temples and Gardens
The Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and other biblical Temples mimic and recreate the imagery of Eden’s garden.

Read more about From The Most Holy Place
The same Spirit that makes the most holy place holy has been sent to “tabernacle” within us.

Take Up Your Mat

John 5.14
Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

Reflection: Take Up Your Mat
By John Tillman

The paralytic at the pool is one of the more unusual miracles of Jesus. In most miracles of healing someone comes to Jesus with a request.

The Centurion sent to Jesus on behalf of his servant and the leaders of the Jewish community supported the Centurion’s request due to his kindness to them.

Bartimaeus called out to Jesus over the noise of the crowd, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” and asked directly, “Lord I want to see.”

Jairus, a synagogue leader, humbled himself to come to Jesus openly, begging for his daughter to be healed.

Along the way to Jairus’s daughter, the woman with the issue of blood braved the crushing crowd, to touch Jesus.

But in the case of the paralytic, Jesus seems to initiate everything. Jesus sees the man. He discovers how long he has been there. He singles him out. He questions him. He heals him.

Another common element of other miracles is a moment in which Jesus comments on the person’s faith. That is absent in this account as well. The paralyzed man’s faith is questionable—perhaps so weak that only Jesus could see it.

Sometimes, a miracle is the beginning of a journey of faith instead of the end. Perhaps the reason Jesus told the man to pick up his mat and walk, was so that he would not be able to come back to the same spot in which he had been lying for years.

In the case of the paralyzed man, Jesus isn’t done with him after he is healed. Jesus once more seeks him out. Jesus finds him in the Temple—a place the man was forbidden to go before being healed. There Jesus calls him to repentance and warns him that there are worse things than being paralyzed by a pool for 38 years. Jesus has more for this man then simply taking up his mat and walking. He has more for us too.

Jesus sought us out when we were paralyzed and deformed by sin. Though our faith might have been so small only he could detect it, he healed us, granting us access to God at the Temple. But he isn’t done with us after this miracle. He still seeks us out. To warn us, to call us to continued repentance, to transform our lives.

Jesus isn’t done with us after the miracle of our salvation. When we take up our mat and walk, we are just beginning to follow him in faith.

Pick up your mat and walk. Then take up your cross and follow him.

Prayer: A Reading
Then, speaking to all, he said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross everyday and follow me.” — Luke 9.23

Today’s Readings
Exodus 26 (Listen – 4:18)
John 5 (Listen – 5:42)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 27 (Listen – 2:52) John 6 (Listen – 8:27)
Exodus 28 (Listen – 5:54) John 7 (Listen – 5:53)

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Read more about Not Just Miracles
Christ’s miracles weren’t entertainment for a crowd or party tricks to show he was a neat prophet. With each miracle Christ demonstrated that restoration beyond what our world is capable of producing will one day come through his reign.

Read more about C.S. Lewis on Miracles
Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of Nature. — C.S. Lewis