The Soul of a Building

August 21, 2012

Excerpt from 1 Kings 7:1-12

"Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house."

Reflection by William C. Green

The housing market is a leading indicator of the state of the economy and our quality of life. What about churches - "houses of God"? Is our quality of life also tied to those?

Many church properties are deteriorating; some need to be torn down, others remodeled, others maintained at high expense. New church starts sometimes abandon the thought of constructing a church at all and worship informally in other ways.

The Bible says God wants to live in our hearts and not "in houses made by human hands." But it doesn't say God should not be worshipped in such houses. New, old, remodeled, or located on other property, the place of worship affects the quality of spiritual life. We are not souls unaffected by physical reality. Think of a family that has no place to call its own and moves from one place to another or lives in a shelter, as many do. Souls need a home.

While it's easy to think Solomon went overboard in the construction of his home - a palace that even included the Temple of God - the physical detail of its construction is significant. It was meant to be an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace—the definition of a sacrament. Colors, floors, ceilings, beams, panels, light, smell, craft, figurative art, and decoration ignite the soul. We ourselves are homeless without them.

Whatever our own house of worship may it be a sacrament - a place that embodies the grace of God.

Prayer

May the work of our hands praise you, God. Amen.

About the Author
William C. Green is Vice-President for Strategy and Development, Moral Courage Project, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the author of 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Generous Giving.

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