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In my Father’s house are many mansions

by davesandel on September 24th, 2021

Friday, September 24, 2021                            (today’s lectionary)

In my Father’s house are many mansions

Who is left among you that saw this house in former glory, and how do you see it now?

Of course. Haggai is speaking of his Father’s house, and the glorious temple his people are at last able to build, to replace what has been torn down. As has historically been true for many communities, the Israelites preferred to spend their time and money on God’s house before their own. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

We’ve broken that commandment. I have broken that commandment. Our kids have broken that commandment. But all of us have kept it sometimes too. We are white college educated people living in America, and things like houses kind of fall into our laps. Our house in Urbana was easy to buy, easy to upgrade, and easy to pay for. We might have trouble selling it, but that’s because we aren’t sure we should. If we ever decide to sell, I think that will be easy too. In the meantime, we share our bounty with God and those around us in many ways.

I remember stories about the newly freed slaves in the South. General Sherman and his local military government gave each of them a hundred acres, and sent them out to make a living. Unfortunately, it was not long before the US government, after Lincoln’s assassination, took the land back and returned it to the plantation owners. What a difference that land would have made in those newly freed men and women’s lives.

Now take courage, all of you, take courage and work! I am with you, says the Lord of hosts. My spirit continues in your midst, do not fear.

Really, Lord? No matter how much I “own,” it seems so easy to lose what I’ve worked for all my life. Jobs, land, health, skills, relationships … whatever I hold dear can so easily be lost.

God knows that’s true. But when you lose what’s precious, David, I grieve with you. I do not leave you alone. I hear your cries. I fill your heart even as it breaks.

O Lord, send forth your light and lead me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.

When God speaks to me, it’s different than when my friend or my wife or my child or a stranger speaks to me. When God speaks, people listen.

But God, why do you keep me so far away?

I no longer ask that question. Just as often I feel alone, even abandoned, but never by God. It’s only a matter of turning the spigot. If I want to talk with God, then I also need to listen. I always have words for you, David. Use your imagination, which is the most important gift of communication with me that you have. Go to your prayer closet, and listen to what I say in that dark room, now illumined with my love and my presence. That space you thought was empty – oh, no, never!

Author Helen Cepero felt abandoned. Her husband suggested she spend some time with her journal in a coffee shop she loved. She sat, opened her journal and wrote a paragraph. She put down her pen.

In that moment she had a revelation: “I will not pick up this pen until I think God will be the one who has the next words. I’ll listen and be still until that moment.”

She sat. She waited. In a little while she felt God’s words, picked up her pen and wrote. The dialogue had begun. Her feelings of despair and loneliness disappeared in an instant.

I will place my hope in God, and I will praise him.

Ron Rolheiser says of some wonderful theological things, “It sounds too good to be true. Well, it IS too good to be true.” Like this hearing God thing. Isn’t that what Jesus was doing, as he prayed alone in the early mornings?

Once, when Jesus was praying in solitude and returned to his disciples, he asked them, “Who do the people say I am?”

He heard the words of God spoke for him, and then he went and lived them out. All the way in every way, Jesus and his Father were one. That didn’t happen because they just snapped their fingers …

It really seems like God changed the direction of this reflection. Weren’t we talking about houses, God’s temple and our own homes? Thanks, Lord, for being the guide.

Mine is the silver and mine the gold, and in this place I will give you peace, says the Lord of hosts.

(Haggai 2, Psalm 43, Mark 10, Luke 9)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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