They set up the altar on its foundation…. (Ezra 3:3)
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy…. (Psalm 43:4)
In today’s first scripture, we meet the Jews shortly after they had returned to Jerusalem after a long exile in Babylon. What they find is devastation everywhere. Their homes were gone. The walls that were once protected were destroyed. And God’s house was nothing but rubble.
What’s the first thing they do to rebuild their lives? “They set up the altar on its foundation…”. Before they could or would do anything else, they knew that they had to reestablish their relationship with God.
Altars are important, for they are the places where we offer ourselves to God and where we hope to meet God. During this COVID time when we haven’t been able to visit the altars in our churches, it’s imperative for us to remember that we need to build an altar in our lives, in our hearts, minds, and souls, in our work, and in our homes where we can give ourselves to God.
Although I wouldn’t say that our current situation has the depth of loss, despair, confusion, and destruction that the Jews faced when they returned to the ruined Jerusalem, there’s no denying how difficult the past 7 months have been. Even if we personally have not had any dire losses, many are struggling with gaining weight, losing sleep, or having little peace of mind or discipline. Many of us are Zoomed out, Netflixed out, tired out, zoned out.
What do we all need right now? More of God. How can we hold fast to God being there for us? Trust that just as we have our own altars, so God does as well, which today’s second lesson proclaims: “Then I will go to the altar of God…”
Do you know what God places on His altar? Every one of us.
How do you feel about being placed on God’s altar? Do you feel like you don’t belong or that you aren’t good enough? If so, you need to get over yourself and trust that God puts you there because He wants to repair, forgive, bless, and heal you. Your being on God’s altar is never about you being good enough but about God’s grace receiving you just as you are and then changing you to become the person He created you to be.
Although we may be in different places with different experiences as we face this pandemic, there is one place we can have in common and one experience that can bind us together. That place is God’s altar, and that experience is the sure hope of receiving all the grace and strength we need to carry us through this time.
- How do you feel about God placing you on His altar?
- As you picture yourself on God’s altar, what repairing, forgiving, blessing, and changing do you need?
- We place ordinary things on our altars and believe that God’s grace makes them extraordinary and holy. God places ordinary us on His altar in order to make us extraordinary and holy. What would an extraordinary and holy you look like?