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The Temple of the Lord

4March2013

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD…’    – Jeremiah 7:3-4

If you are looking for a way to ease into your Monday, you might want to avoid this morning’s reading from the prophet. Jeremiah stands (we are told) in the gate of the Lord’s house, and rails against the “deceptive words” by which Israel justifies its actions and inaction. By Israel, of course, he means not only that ancient sect, but us…all of God’s people down through the ages. He tells the sobering truth that, all too often, our hips and lips are not moving in the same direction. We say all the right words, then continue to live as if those words meant nothing. Our temples look good on the outside, but inside they are spiritually empty. We love the idea that God loves and delivers us, but are hesitant to share that deliverance with those around us or to let that love be reflected in our own interactions. The result? Separation from God and from one another. Our temples laid waste as a consequence of our own brokenness.

Sorry. No cute baby videos this week. Happy Monday, eh?

But an appropriate reminder during these days of repentance and renewal. Jeremiah calls us to the first step of our Lenten discipline: an honest assessment of our condition. In being clear and truthful about what we have become, we make the first turn back toward what we were intended to be. And we find to our great joy (and perhaps surprise) that the Lord God whom we have spurned is waiting to welcome us.

“Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life; for my soul rises early to pray toward your holy Temple, bearing the temple of my body all defiled. But in your compassion, purify me by the lovingkindness of your mercy.”

The words of the Orthodox hymn (take a listen here) are a fine accompaniment for today’s devotions. They remind us that the temple of the Lord is, ultimately, that which bears Christ into the world. That means we are God’s temple now. And so we pray that mercy and grace would cleanse that temple…turning us again to the Holy One who not only delivers us, but who heals our brokenness and reconciles through us the creation which is His own.

DLN@CCD

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