O Lord, open our eyes to your presence.
Open our minds to your grace.
Open our lips to your praises.
Open our hearts to your love.
Open our lives to your healing,
and be found among us.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.
The sparrow herself finds a home
and the swallow a nest for her brood.
She lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.
They are happy who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Sion.
1 Kings 8:22-23.27-30
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.
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.
In John chapter 4, the Samaritan woman says, “you say that the place where the people must worship is in Jerusalem”, and Jesus replies, “woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”.
Is Jesus echoing Solomon’s thought that “this house” could not contain the God of “heaven and the highest heaven”?
Do we put God in a box – a beautiful, precious metal box, lined with silk and with a lock and key? What does this say about our belief in God’s presence within and among us?
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘This people honours me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honour your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
(Note: This reflects the hostility between Christians and Pharisaic Judaism which was at its height when Mark’s Gospel was written in the 60s. During Jesus’s lifetime, this opposition was not so obvious.)
Do we have a problem with man-made laws?
Lord, you call us to discipleship and loving service.
May we be beacons of your light where there is darkness.
May we bring hope where there is despair,
fostering love and compassion
where there is hatred and division.
May we strive at all times to live simply,
finding joy in small things, content to have less,
so others might have more.
Mindful of our responsibility as stewards of creation, may we tread lightly on the earth,
respectful of all living things.
Rooted in faith, may we work together to make your kingdom of peace and justice a reality for all people.
Join us for Monthly Prayers at CAFOD Salford, Katherine House, every first Tuesday of the month.