In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your panelled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured, says the Lord.
Could there be a more appropriate text as we find ourselves in the middle of Advent?
It’s not time to rebuild the Temple because we are too busy looking after ourselves.
The people have returned from exile, an exile they found themselves in because they strayed so far from the way they were supposed to live. Now they are back it doesn’t seem as though they have learned anything. Their priority is still themselves, their comfort, their plenty, their greed. They are looking for significance, for belonging, for meaning and they are looking in all the wrong places…
It is time to refocus. Time to rebuild what is truly important. Time to put God first.
God, Remind us that you are always first. That you alone are our priority. That this Advent we prepare for the rebuilding of your Temple. A temple of flesh and blood, skin and bone. A temple in the shape of a child. God, remind us to always focus on you. Amen.
The Rev’d Stewart Cutler is minister of St Ninian’s LEP in Stonehouse.