"Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: 'I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice." - 2 Chronicles 7:12
Most people who pass our church suspect that it is closed. It rises in dusty majesty, towering above the New York City street traffic. Our stony façade hides behind scaffolding. Our bold, red doors are obscured by opaque fencing.
By the looks of it, our church seems closed. Most of the time it is. As we build something anew, construction safety requirements keep us out this year. One of the few times we can enter the building is to worship on Sunday morning.
New York City, then, cannot come to us. So we come to them.
Our ministries have been forced into the streets, to the places where the people are, to the corners of the city that articulate the needs we are able to meet. Our church is not our building. Church is the work of our prayers.
With great pageantry, Solomon consecrated a Temple in Jerusalem to be the dwelling place of the name of the Lord. But God gave that blessing with conditions. It was to be a "house of sacrifice," Not sacrifice to be purchased at a price that enriches another – Jesus made that clear generations later when he turned out the money-changers – but sacrifice to be offered as a way to change our hearts, minds, lives. They were to meet in God's Temple to pray, to sacrifice so that their lives would be of prayer, of sacrifice.
In other words, the purpose of the House of the Lord was to prepare the people of God to be God's holy temples in a world of need.
What purpose does the community of faith with which you resonate most serve? What sacrifice have you been inspired to offer?
God, I need your Spirit for the work you call me to do. Gift us with the worship lives to build inspiration in my life of service anew. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City./div>