On the run up to Christmas, our doorbell is working overtime. Online shopping and one delivery after another. A complex distribution process organised by people just like you and me. Another delivery arrives, the packaging is opened, the goodies checked, and the parcel is hidden away for wrapping.
This morning He grabbed “the wrapping” and waved it under my nose.
”When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.”” Luke 21:5-11
I wasn’t allowed to check the goodies inside, nor to read the whole passage. There were no ponderings about end times, no insights about “The time is near” (which – as I type these words – is the first time I read that far into these verses this morning).
Just ”… how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God … “ That was it. This morning that was all we read. And He rolled so many images around those two words: “adorned with”:
Making it pretty. Making it sparkly. Made to be a showpiece. Made to be a “wow”! All made by us for Him. Just a little more here, and a little more there – a little more stuff here and a little more sparkle there. Getting it perfect … for Him!
Showing Him how much we care. Doing God justice. Adorning this special place where He lives. Because this is The Temple! And what else would we expect of such a holy place? Isn’t it only right and proper to worship Him with our hearts and minds and add a few pretty things along the way?
The Temple. The result of a complex worship industry. The perfection of rules and regulations. A perfection of ritual. A perfection of pretty things. All organised and delivered by people just like you and me. An example of how brilliant we are.
And then the killer question:
”How much do you still adorn me, Paul? How much do you drape around your faith? How many pretty things do you still add for show?”
And as I reflected this morning, I saw some stuff I hadn’t before: Finely crafted words. At least an hour of facetime a day. A calendar of church stuff. A mental account of prayer time. A mental account of giving. A weighing up of how much I stand in His way or not. How good I am at hearing Him. The packaging around my goodies – with me still counting. Me looking at my pretty adornments. The ones I bring to Him. The ones I make and drape.
And I wonder – who really loves these adornments?
Because for someone who chose the simplicity and wonder of one single egg, one single life, one basic birth place … how much “adornment” does it take to impress God Soft Hands Jesus?
And if the obvious answer is “none” …