"Lift up ye heads, ye gates, ye everlasting doors; who is the King of glory; the Lord mighty in battle." Psalm 24
The Ark of the Covenant was precious to the Israelites. The Ark was the golden box that contained the tablets of the law; it could not be touched for it was the throne of God; it was a symbol of "God with us." In spite of the Ark's preciousness, the Ark had a rough history. It was was often stolen by Israel's enemies, which was a way of thumbing their nose at Israel's trust in the power of God.
The reading from Samuel is the story of the return of the Ark after being captured by the Philistines. David is elated to have the Ark back, so elated with the promises of God with his people, that he dances with all of his might before the Lord. Carrying the Ark in solemn procession, taking it to the temple, the Israelites sang these lines from Psalm 24; it was the hymn at the doors of the temple, as they pounded on the door asking for entrance - "Open up the gates," they sang. The priests inside would sing back, "Who is the King of Glory?" And the grand procession would sing back, "The Lord mighty in battle."
The Ark was Israel's symbol of God's care for them, and God's power over the world. We are always seekers of symbols that help us grasp the care and power of God. The Ark contained the Torah. It housed the Word of God, that Word that called forth and shaped Israel's long history. When I carry the gosepl from the altar into the middle of the sanctuary during worship, through this symbolic act, I, too, am calling the church back to the Good News of Jesus Christ that has called us and shaped us as a people. When we break bread and share the cup in the name of Jesus, we too experience the power and care of God in a very simple meal. These, too, Word and Table, are moments of the "ARK."
God has not left us without some tangible, real signs of his presence with us. And if you live by either the Torah or the Gospel, you, too, in tangible ways will demonstrate through action, your trust in the God who chooses to enter into human history. And your love becomes "Ark" moments of the presence of God.
This week, for my family, through the generous love poured out for us in the loss of mom, you, my brothers and sisters, showed how well you grasped the very heart of the God of the Bible - a God with Us. Making love tangible and real through food, song, care, cards, and prayer; I felt the presence of God and I cried, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts," the same thing the Israelites cried when the Ark was brought into the temple. Thank you from the depths of my heart.
Love, Pastor Dave