July 2015

I have heard your prayer: I have chosen this plac e for myself as a house of sacrifice

[2 Chronicles 7.12]

This see ms to be a very specific Word from the Lord to King Solomon, but a little reflection reveals a depth of significance that widens its scope.

Solomon's Temple and its succssor which was so magnificently enlarged by Herod were sited on Mount Moriah. This was the place where, according to Genesis 22, Abraham almost sacrificed his only son Isaac. The story is chilling, very difficult to comprehend and to come to terms with. It is linked with the anc ient understanding of animal sacrifice as a way of worshipping God. This way ceased for Judaism when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

Shortly before that happened, the early Christian Church initiated a totally new form of worship centred on the life and sacrifice of Jesus. Sig nificantly, Jesus had been crucified not far from the Temple Mount: pilgrims who have walked along the Via Dolorosa will know just how close are these two locations. Significantly again, Christian teaching and worship incorporated the language of sacrifice, focussing on the "Lamb of God who takes away the si n of the world."

Bearing all this in mind, let us accept this Saying as totally relevant and universal, and not simply part of ancient Jew ish history and geography. Yes: in order to fulfil his purposes, God had chosen the sacred place, the land, Mount Moriah, and the city that subsequently su rrounded it, to be the place of sacrifice. But today more than ever before, we think globally. This world of ours is the place, chosen by God, in which the drama of salvation was/is enacted, centering on the sacrificial Lamb of God on the Cross. And any location in this world, including our own houses and chu rches, are chosen by God, "chosen for MY SELF as a house of sacrifice," where the pains and sorrows as well as the joys and triumphs of living are to be experienced.