What or where is ”God’s house” for you? Is it a large modern sanctuary with rear projection screens? Is it a one hundred-year-old sanctuary with a beautiful wood ceiling? What image comes to mind when you hear the phrase “God’s house?”
Many years ago I was in the downstairs portion of our church sanctuary with my four-year-old daughter. I used my master key to get into the janitor’s closet to fetch a vacuum. Jamie had never been in that part of the church and her eyes got big as she looked at the large sink, the shelves and shelves of toilet paper and paper towels, and the rest of the supplies.
“Mommy, we’re in God’s house, aren’t we?”
“Yes, sweetheart, we are!” I replied.
“Well, then! THIS must be God’s bathroom!” she exclaimed.
The pandemic has completely upended our concrete notions of what “God’s house” looks like. Maybe that is one good thing we can claim from all of this mess. We have realized that “God’s house” is wherever God and God’s people are. It can be a parking lot, a lawn, a baseball field, your living room, the beach, a tall sand dune with a cup of coffee…God’s house is a movable place, just like it was in the very beginning.
The writer of today’s psalm is troubled. He heads straight for God’s house in search of justice. While others around him are up to no good, he has walked in integrity and avoided any contact with the wicked people. He would have done well with social distancing.
Psalm 26 (Common English Bible)
Establish justice for me, Lord,
because I have walked with integrity.
I’ve trusted the Lord without wavering.
2 Examine me, Lord; put me to the test!
Purify my mind and my heart.
3 Because your faithful love is right in front of me—
I walk in your truth!
4 I don’t spend time with people up to no good;
I don’t keep company with liars.
5 I detest the company of evildoers,
and I don’t sit with wicked people.
He prepares to go into God’s house with hands washed (!) and with thanksgiving on his lips.
6 I wash my hands—they are innocent!
I walk all around your altar, Lord,
7 proclaiming out loud my thanks,
declaring all your wonderful deeds!
No matter where you are experiencing the house of the Lord, know that wherever you go, God is with you. When you come to him in an attitude of worship, his glory resides. Praise God! His presence cannot be constrained by four walls.
8 I love the beauty of your house, Lord;
I love the place where your glory resides.