SERMON TITLE: “A Dwelling Place for God”
SERMON TEXT: Ephesians 2:11-22 and 2 Samuel 7:4-13
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: July 22, 2018, at First United Methodist Church
A number of you have asked me if I enjoyed my week in Montana. Yes, I did. I visited my mom and some other relatives, which is always good. I also attended my 40-year class reunion, which was a lot of fun. And, as part of those reunion activities, I had opportunities to enjoy some beautiful northwestern Montana scenery. Some of you have seen the picture I posted on Facebook that showed me standing with some of my classmates alongside the magnificent Kootenai River. The picture on the front of today’s bulletin shows a mountain lake that some of us hiked to. Even though it’s copied in black and white on the bulletin, maybe you can imagine the blue water and sky, the green trees, the grey mountain rocks, the small white patches of not-yet-melted snow, and the pink wildflower in the foreground.1 Northwestern Montana in July is a feast for the eyes and a blessing for the soul. Yes, I enjoyed my trip up north. There is something spiritually uplifting about the wonder of creation. For a brief time, at least, I could imagine that I was visiting the dwelling place of God.
“Where exactly does God live?” has been a question ever since the beginning of humankind. Early humans presumed that God inhabited rocks and trees. Later, God’s abode seemed more properly to be the sun and the stars in the heavenly realms. During the time of Moses, God instructed the priests to create the ark of the covenant, a kind of chest carried around on poles, so that the people could take God with them wherever they went. Wherever the people set up camp, the ark was placed in a tent known as the tabernacle. Even up to the time of King David, the Hebrew people frequently referred to the ark or the tabernacle tent as the place where God lived. As our scripture reading from 2 Samuel 7 indicated, once David had settled in Jerusalem, he wanted to build a temple as a permanent dwelling place for God. But God indicated a higher priority was to build up David’s household, his family, and his descendants, so that they would know God was living in and among them.
This same idea comes across in the New Testament in Ephesians 2, where we read that the dwelling place for God is among the people of faith. Specifically, we see that God’s home is a place where barriers between people are breaking down, a place where peace is being offered to everyone.