Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: The House of the Lord
- Over the past two years, how have quarantines and social distancing impacted your experience of worship?
- During the pandemic, where have you sought out “the house of the Lord”? Where have you found it?
- What has God revealed to you in times of pandemic solitude and in times of restored gatherings?
One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in God’s temple. – Psalm 27:4 (NRSV)
For most of my life, the rhythm of my week has included walking through the doors of a church building, as a child and then a parent, as a church member and eventually as the pastor. I’m married to a Presbyterian minister, and we live in a manse right across the street from the church she leads. The steeple is the view from the window of my home office.
It is both so close and, throughout the pandemic, so far away.
One day this summer, I joined my wife on a practical errand, to check the thermostats, and passed through the doors into the sanctuary that I have walked through only occasionally since March 2020. My eyes filled with tears. How tender I felt, not about the building, but about the loss of something less material: the weekly feeling of being part of the gathered body, with its rustle of papers and murmured greetings and collective movement and joyful singing.
I realized that the house of the Lord is not a place I go by myself. Much, even most, of what I know about God has been revealed in gatherings of the faithful, engaged in learning or grieving or questioning. God’s house is not a place; it is a relationship with God and with others. The house of the Lord is any space where we look for God together.
We come, O Holy One, asking for this: wherever we are, let us gather together in your house, and see your beauty, and learn all we can about you. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.