Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 20, 21:1-7(8-14) (Morning)
Psalm 110:1-5(6-7), 116, 117 (Evening)
1 Kings 7:51-8:21
Remember The Poles
In today’s reading, we hear how Solomon and the Israelites dedicated the great new Temple in Jerusalem, on the day of Ethanim, a holiday marked every year by the joyous blasting of trumpets.
On that particular Ethanim, the people brought so many sheep and cattle to the temple to be sacrificed that the priests could not pause even a minute to count them all, but rather had to continue nonstop their ritual slaughter if they were to get done before the dedication itself was to begin.
Then all the gold and silver furniture and luxurious curtains and draperies from the tent in which the Ark of the Covenant had been housed for centuries were brought into the new temple. The Ark of the Covenant itself was then carried in on the poles that had borne its weight for hundreds of years, but now owing to their awkward length, they got tucked behind the draperies, no longer visible to the worshipers.
The ending sentiment has Solomon telling God that he wished that his dead father David would have seen this day. But God tells Solomon that David had done his assigned job as king, and even now Solomon was doing his job by finishing and dedicating the temple.
This reading reminds us that we do not always get to see the fruits of our own efforts for our churches. But should we be lucky enough to be alive when we hear the trumpets announcing the completion of brand new construction in our churches. We might respectfully reflect on all the wealthy people of past decades whose big donations were equivalent to the silver, gold, and most luxurious cloth of the biblical past. We can also honestly congratulate ourselves—at least a little—on our own contributions to the banquet on that day.
But also on that day, indeed every Labor Day, we must also remember the sturdy and steady dedication of the unsung regular working people of the distant past, those unglamorous but utterly dependable wooden poles, even if they are no longer there for anyone to see.
Written by Tony Stankus, an Episcopalian for less than a year
Tony is a Distinguished Professor and Librarian at the University of Arkansas. He says he joined St. Paul’s at age 66 because he could no longer resist the surpassing joy of its liturgies and radiant warmth of its priests and people.