I always get quite cross when I see churches charging to go in them. I appreciate that some are just going to view them as beautiful buildings, with intricate work to admire, but I want to see how people have expressed their worship and love of God – and as a matter of principle, I don’t think anyone should have to pay to visit the place where God is worshipped.
Solomon Prays at the Temple
22 Solomon stood facing the altar with everyone standing behind him. Then he lifted his arms toward heaven 23 and prayed:
Lord God of Israel, no other god in heaven or on earth is like you!
You never forget the agreement you made with your people, and you are loyal to anyone who faithfully obeys your teachings.
41-42 Foreigners will hear about you and your mighty power, and some of them will come to live among your people Israel. If any of them pray toward this temple, 43 listen from your home in heaven and answer their prayers. Then everyone on earth will worship you, just like your people Israel, and they will know that I have built this temple to honor you.
Solomon has brought the Sacred Chest, the Ark of God’s Covenant, to the Temple, this is now to be God’s home, his dwelling place. He acknowledges that he was the one to do this, not his father David who wanted to, but this is no statement of pride or glory, but a prayer. A statement of God’s great glory, remembering his loyalty to his people.
He then moves on to the purpose of the Temple. It is not just a beautiful, majestic building, it is an earthly reminder of God and his life among his people. A place where people can be reminded and have a place to worship God – for he is worthy of their praise. It is a place to honour him.
Which brings me to the question, what are our church buildings for? Places for the admiration of beautiful architecture? Places to be kept special and “holy”? Or places where people can encounter the God who lives among them,and who hears their prayers? A place where everyone can be reminded of God and be able to come and worship him? God’s home at the heart of the community?
Such things do not depend on beauty or being on the Tourist Trail. They depend on the people of God being in that place, keeping his presence alive and maintaining a place where God can be worshipped – not just for an hour on Sundays, but in all the activities of a church in the community 24/7.
Thank you Lord,
that you are worthy
of a place of honour
Thank you for dwelling amongst us,
that we may worship you,
that you hear our prayers
and our praise.
May we maintain a place of worship,
whatever shape that might be,
that you may be seen
in our communities,
of your faithfulness
and your love