March 11, 2023
Today’s Reading: Introit for Lent 3 Ps. 84:1-4; antiphon: Ps. 84:5
Daily Lectionary: Gen 27:1-29, Mark 8:22-38
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. (From the Introit for the Third Sunday in Lent)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Churches come in all shapes and sizes. The massive and beautiful cathedrals of Europe, The climate-controlled and cushioned-pew buildings many of us know, and the rickety lean-tos often seen in disadvantaged nations.
But all of these buildings have something in common: the altar. The place upon which the elements of the Sacrament are placed for the assembled saints to receive in Holy Communion. It might be a massive and ornate slab of marble, it may be a card table, but that altar is the place where the Lord God sits in glory when we gather in worship.
The presence of God is what truly makes his dwelling place lovely. Reality gets very thin around altars. Eternity begins to bleed through into our world around those places where God sits.
You see it happen to Isaiah in the temple (Isaiah 6). Zechariah has a close call, too (Luke 1). No, there is no Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies at your church, or any church on earth. But the altar functions in the same way. It is the Mercy Seat, the place where our Eternal God sits to bestow his gifts upon us.
And when the Lord God is present among us, He doesn’t come alone. We proclaim it every time we celebrate the Sacrament: “therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name.”
The indescribable beauty that is the eternal throne room of God shines into our world in a mystical way as Jesus is physically present in the Sacrament. You can joyfully sing in a cavernous building, in the room of a nursing home, around a kitchen table, or in your own pew because God himself is present there, for you.
Tomorrow, when you walk into your church, look closely at the altar and take note of what makes it special. The wood or stone, the fabrics or candlesticks that adorn it, the flowers that bring it color, the Bible resting upon it.
All of those things are there to remind us of God’s presence, but the biggest and most glorious clue is the communion ware set there ready for you to receive from the ever-present God of salvation Jesus, given for you. It is lovely, indeed! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
God Himself is present: Let us now adore Him And with awe appear before Him. God is in His temple; all within keep silence; Humbly kneel in deepest reverence. He alone On His throne Is our God and Savior; Praise His name forever! (God Himself Is Present LSB 907:1)
-Pastor Duane Bamsch is the Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley, CA and the President of Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.