Proper 17, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)
2 Chron 6:32-7:7
Many of us have worshiped in spaces filled to varying capacities: churches spacious enough for a pew to a person, places of worship that are comfortably full but not crowded, or cathedrals jam-packed for a life event or special feast day. In today’s first reading, though, the temple is not just standing-room-only. Rather, it’s so full that there’s no room for even the priests or the sacrifices they wish to offer. What’s taking up all the space? Nothing other than God’s glory itself.
In this passage, King Solomon is dedicating the first temple of God’s people. After Solomon offers a prayer, fire comes down from heaven, and “the glory of the Lord filled the temple” so completely that the “priests could not enter the house of the Lord.” And Solomon has brought so many sacrificial offerings that he has to consecrate the courtyard outside of the house of the Lord just to contain them. There simply isn’t enough room elsewhere, “because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt-offering and the grain-offering and the fat parts.”
No temple and no altar is big enough to contain God’s glory or to hold all that we have to offer to God. While reading the story of Solomon dedicating the temple, a famous line of poetry kept coming back to me: “Earth’s crammed with heaven” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning). May we feel today some sense of this fullness that no temple, no altar can hold.
(P.S. I will be taking leave from writing these Daily Office reflections until January 1. My rector is on sabbatical this fall, so I am making myself available for more parish responsibilities. I look forward to picking up again in the new year.)
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.