Prayer: O God, open my heart and eyes to the truths in your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A building set aside
23 He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants…”
The church is not just a building…In fact, literally a church is not a building…Solomon dedicates the Temple in Jerusalem. Our text today is his prayer at the completion of the great temple. Finally, a fitting house of worship and prayer.
Many of us have been involved with mission churches or even building programs for new church facilities including a new sanctuary. Usually there are temporary quarters; schools, hotel meeting rooms, even homes. Finally, the day comes when the building is complete and ready for occupancy. It is a big deal. The bishop comes, sometimes even politicians and community leaders. This is when they say things like; “This day is evidence that God is a keeper or promises. Even when you were wandering with no place to call your own—as you met in a storefront and then a school cafeteria—God was always present, moving, and leading you. God is with you now.”
“This day is also evidence that God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. This building is a sanctuary where all are welcome, but it is not only to draw people in; it nourishes us to send us out into the world…”
The service begins when we leave the walls of the church to share God’s love with others. Not only is the building dedicated. More importantly is the dedication of the members to step out into the community and the world refreshed and emboldened to share and witness to the world.
Prayer: Faithful God, we dedicate anew ourselves and the places we gather, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
1 Kings 8:22-43
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands to heaven. 23 He said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24 the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand. 25 Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant my father David that which you promised him, saying, ‘There shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26 Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant my father David.
27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! 28 Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.
31 “If someone sins against a neighbor and is given an oath to swear, and comes and swears before your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven, and act, and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing their conduct on their own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding them according to their righteousness.
33 “When your people Israel, having sinned against you, are defeated before an enemy but turn again to you, confess your name, pray and plead with you in this house, 34 then hear in heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land that you gave to their ancestors.
35 “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, and then they pray toward this place, confess your name, and turn from their sin, because you punish them, 36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk; and grant rain on your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.
37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is plague, blight, mildew, locust, or caterpillar; if their enemy besieges them in any of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there is; 38 whatever prayer, whatever plea there is from any individual or from all your people Israel, all knowing the afflictions of their own hearts so that they stretch out their hands toward this house; 39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, forgive, act, and render to all whose hearts you know—according to all their ways, for only you know what is in every human heart— 40 so that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our ancestors.
41 “Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name 42 —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, 43 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.