A couple of years ago I sat in this spot, looked at the big building down the road, and imagined what it must be like for an Israelite, looking towards Solomon's Temple, and know that Yahweh literally dwelt there.
The sense of anticipation that every few months I would get to go in. The thirsting for communion with Yahweh that would be enjoyed in worship when I got there. The giving of sacrifices that would enable my relationship with Yahweh to be consummated. The 'one day' that would be better than the many days I spent outside, sat here, looking at the building down the road.
And then the day would arrive. And as we journeyed to the Temple we would get to sing the songs that our forefathers sang as they had journeyed there in times gone by. And we would get close...oh so close...to Yahweh himself...and when we got there we would fall on our knees, and sing some more songs that Kings and Priests had written that allowed them, and now us, to attend to God's presence in the Temple. And then we would leave - the building and His presence and the priests that had facilitated it all - refreshed and forgiven and ready for life.
There would have been a frustration too. That the rest of our days would be spent knowing that God was with us, but hidden from us. That the rest of the year would be marked by a sense of absence rather than presence. And that even on those days we got to go there, we still only got so far.... we never got to get as close as the priests, let alone the High Priest.
If we are not careful, we, as the NT church, can still frame worship in the same way as the Israelites. God is assumed to be distant, only accessible in certain places and at certain times, or through certain gifted people or anointed songs, that we can only get 'so far' into his presence without those people, those songs, that building, that conference. Yet when we do this, we have underestimated all that Jesus has achieved for us. We have collapsed all that Jesus has done for us back in to a time, a place, a song, an experience, a day. We pull back from the wide open spaces that His work has won for us.
We forget that in Jesus, the 'there' has become 'here', the 'them' has become 'us', the 'absence' has become 'presence': the 'one day' has become the 'every day'.
We are the New Temple. He is here. We are loved. Jesus has done it.