By Rev Angela C
THE establishment of Christ Church as the Cathedral and the founding of the City of Nassau go hand-in-hand, as the latter depends on the former. We can thank God that like the Children of Israel, we who were “no people” became “God’s people” in a very special way. Nationhood and worship were, and should still be, two sides of the same coin.
Since it is a rare thing to find a Bahamian who can trace ancestry back to the Arawaks, we are all people who hail from elsewhere. We were given our identity by God and we need to never forget that it should be God in whom we trust.
When we look at the cathedral just down the hill from Government House we see a building that has hosted many important national services over the years. It is old from the outside and yet more modern, to some degree, on the inside, with less dated stained glass windows, marble tiles, and a wonderful organ.
Solomon’s dedication of his temple reminds us of the spirit of worship that we need to adopt whenever we enter any church but especially a cathedral in 1 Kings 8:22-30 NIV:
Reverence for God: “Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: ‘Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way’.”
Humility and gratitude as our response to God:“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
Heartfelt requests for God to hear our prayers: “Give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.”
Church is the place to come for forgiveness:“Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.”
Even when we are in church our minds may be far from the things of God, and we need to check ourselves periodically to determine when we are out of order, so that we do not have to be chastised by the Lord as in Matt. 21: 12-13 NIV: “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’.”
Church is the place to expect to find healing at various levels: “The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. (v 14)”
We have to be careful lest we are so mired in tradition that we cannot see when god is doing new thing: “But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant. ‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read’. ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”(v 15-16)
We are to also acknowledge that the church is an architectural gift to us but we are also the church as the people of God, and have the Holy Spirit within us as the temples of the Lord (1 Peter 2:1-10 NIV: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Our true identity is established by God but needs to be embraced and accepted by us: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (v 5, 9-10)”
Even if our buildings are destroyed, we can praise God as we gather as the people of God in any place. If we want to know if we measure up, let us ask ourselves the following questions:
• How much do I feel God’s presence when I worship in church?
• How do I prepare for the worship service?
• What kind of temple am I?
• Do I feel chosen and precious in God’s sight?
• If we took seriously the image of ourselves in the Bahamas as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy people, God’s own people what would have to change in our daily living for this to be and appear to be true?
• Are we willing to re-dedicate ourselves even as we commemorate the establishment of the Christ Church Cathedral and the City of Nassau?
May God find us worthy of such a calling when Christ returns.