Winter 2011 - Department | St. Alban’s Minute
St. Alban’s Minute
We love to build things. What child hasn’t played with blocks, such as stacking them one on another to form something magical, or building sandcastles only to have it washed away by the next high tide.We build things of bricks and mortar, or stone upon stone, and things that reflect important elements in our lives. In religious communities, we call such things churches, mosques, cathedrals, synagogues and temples. All of us have some sort of temple that we admire. It might be a literal building. It might be that special place we escape to for refuge and renewal, but that temple might also be our own job, or company, or family that we have built up to be proud of.
All of us, no matter how old, are surrounded by great buildings that will ultimately fall. We don’t like to imagine it, but we know our buildings will fail—for some reason or another. Even St. Alban’s, now going on 56 years, definitely shows its age with termites, limits of space and technology. Even so, as we move in and out of the holiday season, we also know that toys break, clothing gets outgrown or goes out of style and the gifts we buy are temporal and someday will be forgotten.
The Temple in Jerusalem was a tremendous structure, and a suitable symbol of God’s greatness and glory. You traveled far and near to go there and the disciples certainly admired not only what it symbolized as God’s house, but the historical importance and struggle of the Jewish people.
But Jesus knew it too would one-day fall. In Luke 21:5-19, he told his disciples about the destruction of the Temple. On that day, it would seem like the end of the world itself. He could not say for sure when it would be; but he knew it would be a cataclysmic event. In the destruction of the Temple, symbolically, everything his people had ever worked for, would be gone.
But for Jesus and his followers, the destruction of the temple would not mean the end to God’s creation and work of salvation on earth. Jesus urged people to hang in there and to bear suffering with hope and patience. His lesson was that all of us suffer, and all of us go through destruction and tearing down. All of us even go through death, but that is not the end. He died himself, but it was not the end. He was resurrected, and God’s creative power began again.
I am sure God enjoys our physical cathedrals, temples and projects. But I believe God loves to build up people and relationships. In learning, serving, laughing and crying, we see God’s love.
Many of us gather today in beautiful structures. Sometimes they are churches, but sometimes they are the other temples of our lives—companies, families, projects, personal masterpieces. These are all such large stones! But these structures are not and should not be the ultimate focus of our lives. Jesus reminds us that the heart of our ‘Iolani community is not found in our brick and mortar. It is found in God and in the very creative power of God at work: The blessings of people and the relationships we have with one another.
I am sure God enjoys our physical cathedrals, temples and projects. But I believe God loves to build up people and relationships. In learning, serving, laughing and crying, we see God’s love. God is building us into a living temple. A temple in which the very stones come alive, formed by the Spirit of the living God, an eternal gift of enduring stones which forms the very foundation of our lives.
The Rev. Daniel L. Leatherman