Shoveling Dirt — It’s Spiritual!

Posted: November 6, 2015 in Uncategorized
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I spent much of my week shoveling dirt. It was mundane. It was also exhausting.

And it was spiritual.

There is a bias among some of the faithful that temple building doesn’t rank very high on the spirituality index. Prayer, study, mediation, teaching, bringing healing, worshipping  — these are often ranked higher that moving dirt.

But this is not so. Working is akin to praying, they both have a deep intrinsic spiritual value.

God’s people need a place, they always have  — a sanctuary, a shelter, a bit of ground reserved for quietness, a garden corner of beauty, a sacred space to come before God to connect, learn and worship.

This week, at the church site we are renewing, we will be spreading wood chips, moving top soil, gluing sprinkler system pipe, planting flowers. This is a sign. It is a sign of our spiritual health.

A bit worn out from all this, this morning I read Haggai.

Here is what God told his people in ancent times about temple remodeling projects.

Here’s what I want you to do:

Climb into the hills and cut some timber.

Bring it down and rebuild the Temple.

Do it just for me. Honor me.”

Haggai 1:8

When we rebuild temples, we are doing what the kind of thing that God likes, particularly when we do it to honor him.  Rebuilding is within the divine mandate to honor and care for God by honoring and caring for the earth. Earth matters. Dirt matters. Places matter. A solid place that has been given by God matters, and this much is true: A people in tune with God will restore and beautify the holy places God gives them.

Yes, get to work! For I am with you.’ God told his people in Haggai’s day! ‘Put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt. I’m living and breathing among you right now. Don’t be timid. Don’t hold back.’

Haggai 2:5

Years ago I had a dream that I had left my beautiful home in my master-planned community and bought an old, large, broken down house. In the dream I just kept thinking, why did I do this? I don’t want to fix up this huge, old, trashed home.

Then one day my dream came true. I was called to be the pastor of a fairly large church facility that had been neglected for years. When I took the job, I didn’t think much about the site, just the people, their need for me, my need to care for them, God’s invite.

Then one day, after being there a short while and seeing the needs of the site up close, I was suddenly struck  that my old nightmare had come true. I was reponsible for a large, ruined house.

Then God spoke to me, as he did to Haggai, “Get to work! For I am with you.”

His voice worked on me. I began to burn inside for the temple of God to be honored.

And so we have gotten to work. We put in new lights, bought new porch canopies, refinished old oak floors, refinihed the seating, remodeled the stage and we painted and we painted — everything! And there is more. We are just finishing a three year project, a new interior coutyard with a beautiful enclosing stucco wall, a large stage, pavered walkways, gardened edges, and both decorative and ambient lighting. It is about to be gorgeous!

And to celebrate all this newness we have renamed the place, We are now The REFINERY, because this is what we are. We are now a place where old things become new, and where good things become better.

And for me, has it been a bad dream? It has not. It has been a good dream, a beautiful dream, because when God tell us to renew something, then we ourselves are renewed in the process of doing that.

This is what God himself said to his people in Haggai’s day.

Think ahead from when the Temple rebuilding was launched. Has anything in your fields—vine, fig tree, pomegranate, olive tree—failed to flourish? From now on you can count on a blessing.’”

Haggai 2:19

Cool! Whe we rebuild according to God’s command, God rebuilds us.  Earth care, temple care, site care — God is all over it, and he rewards and takes care of those who do it.

Shoveling dirt — it’s spiritual.

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