1 Kings 8:1-5
Leaves fall on the parade route packed with Israelites from across the kingdom. Elders represent each of the twelve tribes and proceed north from the old town to the new Temple. Priests lead the way, carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Levites hoist the meeting tent. Its canopy floats above the crowds. Below, they carry holy vessels and golden treasures, shimmering in the daylight. They sacrifice so many sheep and oxen to dedicate the Temple they could not be counted or numbered (v. 5). The king throws an extravagant celebration to show God his devotion and the people his royal affluence.
The big moments of our lives—weddings and baptisms, dedications of babies and buildings, graduations and installations of pastors and deacons, retirements and inaugurations—should be celebrated with all the ritual that will make the day memorable. The places where we dedicate, celebrate, install, and inaugurate become part of a community’s collective memory.
This is why it comforted people for pastors to still preach their online sermons from the pulpit, even when services weren’t being held in their sanctuaries. At a time when so many were stressed and grieving, we wanted to at least see the place that held meaning and memories for us, even though we could not visit in person.
God has made us communal, relational beings. This is why we worship as congregations and celebrate big moments with a community. This is why the isolation of the pandemic brought such suffering. The Temple wasn’t just a place for Israel to worship God. It was also a place for Israel to be a people of God.
On this All Saints’ Day, how might you gratefully remember those who have left this life? How might you reach out to those who are with you still?
God, make me an instrument of your peace this day. Bring a smile to my face, kind words to my mouth, and understanding to my heart so that your love will build community. Amen.