Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 29: 3, 18a
In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.
Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, “We have cleansed all of the house of the LORD.”
It is spring cleaning time. We are anxious for the cold to be over, the trees and bushes are budding, next Wednesday potatoes will be planted (St. Patrick’s Day by custom), and the grass is green, looking for a good raking and a first mow before fertilizer is spread. We clean up the interior of the house, throwing away all of the stuff we have accumulated that we realize we no longer neither need nor use. We go and buy some new clothes to welcome Spring and Summer. We want to get rid of all of the old growth, our old stuff, and bring in new look in anticipation of the new growth that will be coming.
It is also Lent, which means “Spring”. It is a time where we reflect on our lives with Christ and determine what needs to go away and what we would like to see God do in our lives. Maybe we have seen the dreams of the winter go unseen. It is time, then, to ask God for a new dream.
The reading for today is really the first 11 verses of 2 Chronicles 29 and then verses 16-19. The points I want to make today concern verse 3 and verse 18a, from which I have come to this lesson.
First, the doors were opened and then repaired in the Temple of the LORD. The Temple had gone unused for years. Hezekiah, being young and ambitious, sent instructions to go take a look and see what needs to be done to clean up the mess that had accumulated all of those years of unused and neglect. In order for any of us to be able to do any cleaning in our temple that is ourselves, we must open that door, make an inspection, compose a list of to-dos, what to throw away, what to save, and then repair the door so that both God and Jesus can come into our lives to live, move, and have being in us.
I was once kind of young and ambitious. I was on a pathway to ordination, feeling called of God to be a pastor. I did a summer gig in a small mountain town, and asked our pastor the next year if there were any other summer places I could fill in for a while. As circumstances would have it, a church about fifty miles from where I live needed someone to preach on Sundays. I accepted the request from the congregation and went every week for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, the congregation asked if I would be their permanent pastor. Most of the people I talked with when thinking this over said it would be a waste of time, but I felt that this was the first step I should be making.
After a few weeks, I had my license from our conference and thought to myself, “Now, let’s see how we can get more people in the door.” Well, as I found out, that was the problem – the door. It had been locked for whom knows how long. I asked why they locked the front door all of the time, especially Sunday mornings. I was told it was the way it had been forever, and everyone knew to come in the back door to the fellowship hall for coffee before church. What if someone saw the sign, came to the front door, found it was locked, and walked away? The door was unlocked.
The next Sunday four new people came in for service. They said they had tried once before, but the door was locked. Since the congregation was small, there were not a lot of cars parked at the curb to indicate anyone was actually in the church. I would show up about an hour early for church, open the door and the windows, crank up the organ and play as loudly and as best I could to let people know that there was definitely church going on inside.
In our personal lives with Christ, we must make a decision to open the door of our heart, repair and oil our “creakiness”, and then go to work doing some cleaning. This time of year, Lent, gives us the opportunity to do that spring cleaning in our lives and get rid of all of the distractions that keep our heart and mind from faithfully, joyously, and continuously serving God.
At the end, we can state what the servants and workers stated to King Hezekiah. The temple has been cleansed and is now ready for God to inhabit. As we are about half way through the Lenten journey, let us focus ourselves in fixing those things in our lives that constitute the temple God has given us. Let us clean, sweep, wash, wipe, and maybe even cry for that true presence of God to return or burn hotter in our lives. Pray that we may have the presence in a truer, real sense than we have ever felt God before. Amen.