My Bible reading today included this chapter, always an amazing one to revisit. Solomon dedicates the temple in chapters 5 and 6 with a dramatic sacrificing ceremony, a full week of butchering animals and feasting and prayer and fellowship. It's an amazing scene on many levels. The concreteness of the attention to the furnishing, the value of the beauty, the gold and color, the sheer scale of the spectacle, reminds us that we are embodied creatures who thrive on the tangible, that art and food can be worshipfully enjoyed, that even furnishing a home can be a holy act. Then God comes in a dark temple-filling suffocating cloud, so thick and awesome that the priests can not minister. God's presence stops the very activity that we would all assume to be the most appropriate and commendable, which says something about His Otherness. But I digress. After the whole week of festivity is over, God comes to Solomon at night and echoes back Solomon's prayers as a promise. He commits Himself to act. To hear, to forgive, and to heal in response to the prayers of the people.
If there is anyplace in this 21rst century where this story is currently being enacted in real time, it must be South Sudan. A faithful remnant of true believing Sudanese have prayed, and prayed. And today the vote that was promised six years ago begins, in spite of many odds against such a process. Decades of war and loss are beginning to be healed. The referendum process will continue all week, then it will take some time for the vote to be tallied and results to be announced. Please pray for the country of Sudan, north and south, this month. In the northern area, the president stands accused of genocide and has vowed to turn that section of the country into a homogenized state under the rule of sharia law with Arabic as the only language. The line between North and South is disputed, with 80% of the oil reserves in the South the North wants to hold onto the controversial remaining 20% in border zones. The fate of Southerners living in the North, and of the districts along the border, remains unclear. The ability of the South to manage a country bigger than Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania put together with less than 60 miles of paved roads (total), where a 15 year old girls is more likely to die in childbirth than graduate from high school, remains tenuous.
Healing needed for this land. Let us join the faithful who are praying.