These are the words from my sermon on Sunday that resounded with a lot of people apparently. God lived in a tent.
I was talking about the readings set for the day 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Ephesians 2:11-22 &
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, we heard about David, settled in his house of cedar, looking at the tent which house the ark of the covenant and offering to build God a house and God saying he would build him a "house" (a family, heirs, a lineage) and a son who would build a church.
First I got people to look round the big medieval church we were in and experience the vastness and the silence of the place (something I regularly do with schools visiting!) Then I talked about how CHURCH for us meant a building but that it hadn't always been that way. In fact God had lived in a tent (cue arrival of small 3 person dome tent carried by two young people).
I explained how Moses had met God first not in a Church but on a mountain and how God had given him the tablets with the ten commandments which were then placed in the ark of the covenant. I described how the Israelites travelled around and wherever they stopped the ark would live in a tent and people would go ther to meet with God.
So it was that David's son came to build the "church" over many years. A building MUCH bigger than our parish church (which is pretty big but we don't like to boast! no please really would you like to pay our heating bills!?!?! ;oP)
However another "Son of David" built a church EVEN bigger than the one Solomon built. Jesus, born to the house of David built the church of people. He didn't limit himself to building his CHURCH in a building but travelled. Wherever he travelle, people followed, even when he was seeking some rest.
Interestingly the Gospel reading misses out a section and that contains the story of the feedin gof the 5,000. So Jesus had a church where there were 5000 people (and some!). You coldn't get 5000 people in our church but I'll tell you where you'll find gatherings like that.
This week IN TENTS at the Lighthouse clubs in High Wycombe, Hazlemere, Great Missenden, Princes Risborough & Burnham there'll be at least 5,000 people coming together. Over the summer weeks there'll be Soul Survivor, Greenbelt and Taize where people will gather IN TENTS as a church.
I went on to talk about how, over the summer people might be away and that even if they weren't in church it didn't mean that church wasn't in them during that time.
Church is not something confined to the building in which we meet every week. In meeting together we grow together as a CHURCH it is that bonding of people no matter who they are, what age they are, male or female, whatever race they are. By coming together we build CHURCH and even if we're away for a few weeks, that CHURCH doesn't stop.
Just as Solomon and Jesus were sons of David so we are members of God's family.
As Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians:
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone."
If we have Christ as our focus we can build church for as Paul continues:
"In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God."A DWELLING PLACE OF GOD
That's what we can be. So yes we'll miss those who are away in the summer (some of them staying maybe in TENTS others in more splendid buildings) but this time gives people the chance to take church out of the building. To focus on Jesus wherever they are (for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them). My challenge to our congregation was to come back to us and tell us where they built church while they were away.
note: unfortunately this was one of those sermons where I prepared lots and then just spoke so it may not be wholly accurate. It seemed to be appreciated though which is always pleasing.