Summary: Building dedication sermon.
Psalm 84: “HOW LOVELY IS YOUR DWELLING PLACE!”
The last time I was here in LaPorte, this place where I am standing right now was just a muddy spot on the ground. There was an open field here, and the place where you’re sitting right now – can you picture it? Just mud, dirt, some grass. It wasn’t a very pleasant place – no shade, so it was hot in the summer. Cold and windy in the winter. No place to park your car. Desolate. No people. The last time I was in LaPorte, this wasn’t my favorite place.
But now, by the grace of God, things are different. There is a building here. A house of God. And it is beautiful. As the Psalmist says, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, Almighty.” Today we’re going to look at Psalm 84, a psalm written about the beauty of the temple, a psalm that we can apply as we give thanks to God for this building, this dwelling place of God, that he, by his almighty power and love, has given to us.
Many people believe that the person who wrote this psalm was trapped in a place where he couldn’t go to God’s temple. The writer may have been in captivity, or separated from the temple because of war, and that’s why he wrote, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord, my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” I wish I could be there, the writer was saying. I wish I could be in God’s temple, because that’s where God lives. That’s where God dwells. Even the birds can go there, as they build their nests in the eaves of the temple. And those who are able to go, are blessed – “Blessed are those who dwell in your house. They are ever praising you.”
As we dwell in this modern house of God today, we also can praise God for all the good things that He has done for us. Just seeing this building is a reminder of the power and love that God can show to his people. As we look into the past, just think of all the things that God did, to make this building possible. Was it just luck that this small group of Christians was able to purchase this prime piece of real estate? Or was it the hand of God, that one of our members, talked to the right person, who knew the right people, at just the right time, and for just the right price, Beautiful Savior was able to purchase this property? Was that luck, or was it the hand of God?
And what about finding the right person to build this church? The right person to design, to coordinate, to work with members of Beautiful Savior – the right skills, the right price – was it just luck, or was it the hand of God? Did you see the hand of God as the money for the downpayment was raised? Did you see the hand of God as the Michigan District Mission Board and the WELS Board for Home Missions both gave their approval and support and guidance? How thankful we are for those people. And how thankful we are, that the WELS Church Extension Fund gave Beautiful Savior the loan needed to build this building. And what about all the members who donated their time, who donated their effort, who made sacrifice after sacrifice, so that this house of God could stand here today. Can you see the hand of God working through all of these people?
And now, as it stands completed, we can say with the Psalmist, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty.” Notice how the Psalmist called temple God’s dwelling place – the building belonged to God. And this building belongs to God as well. It was built and paid for and financed by people, and we are truly thankful for every single person who participated in the construction of this building. But ultimately, all credit belongs to God. And ultimately, this building belongs to God. His name should be on the deed. It’s HIS dwelling place – he lives here.
It’s true that God is not limited to a building – he lives everywhere. But it’s also true that wherever the Word of God is preached, God is there. Wherever two or three gather together around the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God is there. Wherever water and the Word come together in baptism, God is there, causing a rebirth and renewal by his Holy Spirit. Wherever bread and wine are shared in the same way Jesus shared on Maundy Thursday, the body and blood of Christ “given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins” – God is there, forgiving and strengthening his people.