Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Edifice Complex

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:121-136 + I Kings 6 + I Chronicles 24 + Jeremiah 19

Quote of the Day
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

Daily Text: I Kings 6

The Edifice Complex
The Deuteronomist evidently considered the temple to be the hinge on which Israel’s history swung. For the date given for the temple’s inception was considered to be 480 years following the Exodus and 480 years prior to the return from Exile. Since there is good evidence that Solomon came to the throne in 960, this would place the Exodus at about 1440, some two centuries before most scholars would date that event. However, that the Deuteronomist placed the building of the temple as central to the life and significance of Israel is without question.

What is incredibly important in all of this is the realization that God has allowed the building of the temple though He would have preferred that the worship of his Name not be confounded by focus on the building. The author of I Kings is clear that Solomon is building a house for the name of the LORD his God [I Kings 5:5]. The emphasis on perfection, however, is both recognition of the importance of such an undertaking and a red herring across the trail of true worship that is of the heart. The ‘edifice complex’ grows easily and dies hard.

George Herbert

Lord, with what glory wast thou served of old,
When Solomon’s temple stood and flourished!
Where most things were of purest gold;
The wood was all embellished
With flowers and carvings, mystical and rare:
All showed the builders, craved the seers care.

Yet all this glory, all this pomp and state
Did not affect thee much, was not thy aim;
Something there was, that sowed debate:
Wherefore thou quitt’st thy ancient claim
And now thy architecture meets with sin;
For all thy frame and fabric is within.

There thou art struggling with a peevish heart,
Which sometimes crosseth thee, thou sometimes it:
The fight is hard on either part.
Great God doth fight, he doth submit.
All Solomon’s sea of brass and world of stone
Is not so dear to thee as one good groan.

And truly brass and stones are heavy things,
Tombs for the dead, not temples fit for thee:
But groans are quick, and full of wings,
And all their motions upward be;
And ever as they mount, like larks they sing;
The note is sad, yet music for a king.


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