Hallowed Halls

Day 202

2 Chronicles 4:1‐6:11; Romans 7:1‐13; Psalm 17:1‐15; Proverbs 19:22‐23

Hallowed Halls

In 1985, my fiancée and I sat in Chicago Symphony Hall as the orchestra warmed up. Both of us liked classical music, but we had never heard a live performance. On a whim, we bought some tickets. Dressed in jeans and sweatshirts, we felt unprepared for the occasion. But we were on vacation, and once we sat down, we no longer cared.

What were truly unprepared were our ears. When all had quieted, the symphony began to play the Sibelius Symphony #1. The music swallowed me up. I felt the music in my bones. I sat there like an idiot until intermission, afraid to move, not wanting to interrupt the feeling.

The music was similar to all the classical music I had ever heard in my life. But the setting made it different. In that hall, the music became special.

The books of Chronicles were written after the Israelites returned from exile. The writer hoped to inspire Israel to imitate the rule of God in Israel under David and the worship of God under Solomon. It was important for Yahweh to rule and for Yahweh to have His place among the people.

Today, people say that God lives in their hearts. While this is indeed true, it is still necessary for us to honor God as King and to create a preeminent space for Him. The Music has been the same from the beginning. But He truly comes to life when we make our hearts His symphony hall.

David Somers, Deacon
St. Matthews Episcopal Church
Orlando, FL

Slave to Sin or Righteousness

Day 201

2 Chronicles 1:1‐3:17; Romans 6:1‐23; Psalm 16:1‐11; Proverbs 19:20‐21

Slave to Sin or Righteousness

Paul begins this chapter of Romans in what would seem to be in dialogue with an imaginary opponent in a debate over grace and sin. The opponent is saying that if God’s grace is great enough to forgive sin, then it would make sense that the more we sin, the more God’s grace is available to forgive us. Therefore, we should go on sinning. Paul, arguing with himself, is totally appalled at the idea and exclaims, “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

He is referring to baptism. When we committed to the Lord through baptism, we died with Him and were resurrected with Him to new life, free from sin. We may feel safe from the weapons of sin while in church and deep in prayer but when we enter the world, we are faced with the choice.

We can “offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness…” or, we can “offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness” (Rom. 6:13). I am certain Paul is speaking, at least in part, of our tongues as parts of the body. We are called to spread the Word of the Gospel. Our words can bring others to Christ or drive them away. In my own simple way, I can also see the part of our body as a hand. When we are cut off in traffic there is a hand gesture that telegraphs our feelings. What if we were to open all the fingers in that gesture with an open palm raised to the glory of God? After all, “Where sin abounded, grace super-abounded” (Rom. 5:20).

The Rev. Ed Bartle
St. Edward’s Episcopal Church
Mount Dora, FL

History Matters

Day 200

1 Chronicles 28:1‐29:30; Romans 5:6‐21; Psalm 15:1‐5; Proverbs 19:18‐19

History Matters

We all like to believe that with God there is always a new beginning, and that we can accomplish anything with God at our side… at least if the preponderance of memes I see on Facebook are any indication. Unfortunately, it is not always so.

We would be hard pressed to name a more effective leader of God’s people than King David. His military conquests, his organization of the kingdom, his ability to mobilize his people are without equal. Yet, the task he most wanted to accomplish was denied him. King David longed to build a home for the Ark, a temple for the Lord, and surely he had the leadership skills to accomplish this task. Nonetheless, God barred him from that task because of his history—he was a warrior who had shed blood.

Note that the implication here is not that he had sinned. After all, David had been anointed as king and had been commanded by God to lead the people into battle. But somehow, the life he was called to live as king excluded him from some other callings. This should diminish neither the call as a warrior and king, nor the call inherited by his son, Solomon, to build the Temple.

None of us are called to do all things, nor do we get to do all the things we might like to do.  But when we each undertake our own particular calling, the result is the glory of God!

The Rev. Eric Turner
St. John’s
Melbourne, FL