Jesus is the Bread of Life who has come down from heaven to give life to the world, “Give us this bread always!”(JOHN 6:34). But this Bread requires chewing to get the goodness. And that means taking time: i.e., with Jesus to observe, listen, ponder, that His life/character may be built up in us. (the conclusion of Pentecost 12 readings) This is the life of communion/abiding that Jesus promises: a being/walking with that brings about transformation in us as we are changed from glory to glory. The task seems daunting. How do we accomplish it, noting that in today’s Gospel, Jn 6:56-69, many of Jesus disciples can’t stomach it (won’t believe) and stop following him. Peter’s response to Jesus personal question (Jn 6:67-9) gives us the key: faith in the person!

 

In the gradual psalm 84 we are given a picture of what this faith is and how it is lived out. One word to describe the journey is contemplation. Look at the word and see what other words you discover in it. “Time” which comes from the root TEM- which means to cut, divide, measure, as you time. “Temple”, a measure of time taking the shape of space. For what or who? God. And hence a building, a dwelling , a being together with, a being in the presence of, a making time “holy” for God. Worship. Sabbath. Now look at the O.T. lesson in 1 Kings 8, in particular, vv22-30. What does the architecture of temple point to? Where did it originate and what is its purpose? Look back at 1 Chronicles 28: 11-21) to see where the original designs came from David, the worship par excellence. Note in v43 that word “fear” again, that brings wisdom & understanding.

 

Note that psm 84 (in your bible) has 3 parts divided by a Pause or Selah for a moment to reflect or “chew” or play an instrumental solo. Look at vv1-4. The psalmist has a deep longing to be in the temple where God is present. What is it that so captivates him? Where & does this passionate love originate? Think about what places or “moments” in your life are indelibly impressed on your memory and how & why they impact you. Is God part of those memories? Fears?

 

Note the contemplation the psalmist is making. (It is actually the work of the Holy Spirit subtly whispering, prompting, highlighting) How long is it before he notices the sparrow & swallow? How much longer before he realizes they have made their nests in the temple by the altar of the Lord? How long before he makes the connection to himself? Becomes aware of how exhausted he’s feeling – stress of work,  family, health situation. (NOTICE the time this takes – this is contemplation!!!) Eventually his contemplation brings him to a place of repose where he is able to release himself, work, etc. into God’s hand – a Sabbath Rest. Can you recognize this in your own times of prayer? How can you develop your building in time for God (Temple construction) in your day/week?

 

Pt 2 vv.5-9 The JOURNEY begins from the Rest of Contemplation, vis. Sabbath. Sabbath marks the beginning & end of life & work we are made for. Note where our steepest learning curves are: Valley of Baca-weeping, desolation.  (v.6) Why is that? What did you learn that made you a better follower of Jesus? Look at 6:10-20 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Review the pieces of armour, noting what they protect. When do you actually learn how to use it?

Do you think despair could be a good thing? What could it teach you?

 

What is so significant about a the office and ministry of a gate keeper? (Remember that Gate keeper and musician/worship leader are special duties of the Levitical ministry). What about all does he/she need to be about? – think of diaconal/serving ministry of Jesus & the importance of “waiting”.

 

We are all called to this diaconal service. Think of what the Gate Keeper does – a DOOR that opens in & out. INWARD, his focus is God – Worship/Contemplation & TRANSFORMATION; OUTWARD, she radiates the beauty of the Lord. Meditate on this for the next 7 days. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to be a gate keeper who is also a Beacon bearer. As the Lord gives you revelation pray for St. Thomas, gate church of the city, that by her worship she may be a true Beacon that endures.

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