Year B Pentecost 13 – 1 Kings 8:1,6,10-11,22-30,41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69
Israel had physical objects used as aids for worship. They had a Temple with furnishings and altars upon which to offer animal sacrifices and burn incense. The association of God’s presence was with a physical place.
The Psalmist reminds Israel that aids for worship are reminders of God’s covenant. The aids are not limited to a time and place. They include the Creation, God’s natural revelation. Nonetheless, there is a natural yearning to worship collectively with others.
Christians today do not have to travel to a special location to be in God’s presence. God dwells in us all. But there is still something special about us gathering together to worship God collectively. Worshipping in isolation feels as if we are cut off from a part of our very being. The famous “armour of God” reminds us that we are part of an “army”. No soldier can win a battle fighting on their own. It takes collective effort.
The Gospel passage featured for several weeks brings the reader to a conclusion. Physical references for worship are merely representatives of the real. The words are spiritual and lead to eternal life. God is present with you here and now. That presence is evident when two or three believers assemble together and experience God through their fellowship and devotion.