INTRODUCTION AND PRAYER
On Sunday, November 15, 1970, this building was dedicated as a place for worshipping the God of the Bible. Thirty-eight years and one day later we have gathered for the purpose of worshiping the True God once again. Most of the Scripture readings and hymns selections that we’ll use today are the same ones that were used twenty-eight years ago in that first dedication service. We pray that today the LORD will kindly and graciously stoop down to visit us again so that we might thank Him for this place, and rededicate our hearts to Him.
Prayer: O eternal God, You live in the highest, most holy place, but You also live in the sin-sorry humble heart. Look on us today, with kindness, heavenly Father. With grace. With forgiveness. Bless this house built for Your Name, and bless all who enter it’s doors with life eternal through faith in Your Son. In this way, bring glory to Your everlasting name, even through sinners like us. Amen.
To begin our meditation on God’s Word, I’d like to read all of Psalm 26. We’ll be focusing on just verses 6-8, but I want us to have the whole Psalm in mind as we zero in on those three verses.
Psalm 26 (NIV)
1 Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
2 Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth.
4 I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, O LORD,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
8 I love the house where you live, O LORD,
the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But I lead a blameless life;
redeem me and be merciful to me.
12 My feet stand on level ground;
in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.
These are the words that the Holy Spirit inspired David to write. May that Holy Spirit fill our minds with understanding, and our hearts with faith.
Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Master and Savior Jesus Christ.
David kinda takes our breath away and puts a puzzled look on our faces a few times during this Psalm. How about that first verse, “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life.” What? David wants the Holy God to look down on his life and help him out because David has been such a good, obedient boy?
What happened to the David who committed adultery with Bathsheba? What happened to the David who had murdered Bathsheba’s husband so that he could have her? What about the David who openly declared that he was a sinner in Psalm 51? In Psalm 51 David prayed,
“…Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions… Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:1,5 NIV).
David knows that he is a sinner. In Psalm 26, after he says, “I lead a blameless life”, David goes on to asks God to redeem him and be merciful to him. He wouldn’t ask for God’s redemption and mercy if he thought he had never sinned. David knows he is a sinner. So why does his prayer point God to his life?
In Psalm 26 David is contrasting the life of a believer with the life of the unbelieving. As a follower of God, David’s life was characterized by faithful service to the LORD. The life of the unbelieving, on the other hand, is characterized by hypocrisy and lies.
David points to his life because God’s work in his life proves that he is one of God’s people. David is saying, “Look in my life LORD! My life shows that you are my God because Your fingerprints are all over it! You are active in my life! I am Yours, now come and save me.”
David recognized what made him special. God had associated Himself with David.
Association with the true God is what makes things special in this sin stained world. The altar of the LORD that David talks about in Psalm 26 wasn’t the only altar around back then. Just like today, the world back then was filled with altars dedicated as many false gods as man could think up. The altar that David circled was special because it was the only one dedicated to the LORD.
In verses 7-8 David says,
“I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, O LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 26:6-7 NIV).
You see, it’s all about the LORD. David was special because his life was dedicated to the LORD. The table that David worshipped at was special because it was dedicated to the LORD.
If this altar behind me wasn’t dedicated to the LORD it would be just be another table, and not a very useful one either. But this altar is not just another table. We don’t play cards on it. We don’t serve regular daily meals on it. It is the LORD’s table.
We use this table in the same way that David describes in Psalm 26. We walk around it praising God and talking about all the wonderful things that He has done. Remarkable, thousands of years have passed and we’re still doing the same thing as we approach the altar of the LORD.
There is a difference between the altar that David was circling and this altar though. A pretty big difference. In David’s day the altar was still used to offer blood sacrifices to the LORD, ours isn’t.
In David’s time, Jesus had not yet been offered as the perfect sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary. In David’s time God’s people were still offering blood sacrifices that had been commanded by the LORD. Sacrifices which were meant to foreshadow the blood sacrifice that Jesus would be. Did you know that when the Temple of the LORD was standing a perfect, spotless, healthy lamb was sacrificed every day. One in the morning. One in the evening. Every day. All looking forward to the perfect, sinless Jesus who would died instead of us.
Our altar is not designed to hold and burn animal sacrifices because there is no more reason to look forward to the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God. Jesus has already been offered, and accepted by God the Father. We don’t need to offer up sacrifices to appease God because we are His forgiven children through faith in Jesus Christ.
Talking about Jesus, the book of Hebrews says,
“12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12 NIV).
And in Ephesians,
“7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV).
We have redemption through HIS blood. That’s why this altar never holds a sacrifice. That’s also why this decorative cross is empty. The sacrifice that destroyed the record of our sins and united to God in eternal forgiveness is finished! When Jesus felt all the wrath of God over our sins, and when He had triumphantly breathed His last living breath, He died. They took Jesus’ dead body off the cross to lay it in a tomb. Three days later, because He accepted the sacrifice, God raised His Son from the dead. He restored His glory and power and authority forever, and has promised all who trust in Him will rise in the same way. What a God it is that we worship!
In verse 8, David prays,
“I love the house where you live, O LORD,
the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8 NIV).
On Sunday, November 15, 1970, this building was dedicated to the LORD. Thirty-eight years and one day later we have gathered for the purpose of worshiping the True God once again. There are bigger buildings. There are more beautiful buildings. Some might ask, “Why is this building so special?”
The answer is found in the words of Dedication printed in “The Lutheran Agenda”.
“Albeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, but with His glory doth fill the heavens and the earth, He hath yet been pleased to reveal His gracious presence wherever His holy Word and Sacraments are in use. For thus He spake through Moses: In all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee; and, again, through Christ, His Son: Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Where as then, this house hath been built for the manifestation of the grace of God in Word and Sacrament and we are for the first time gathered together here in His name, let us, therefore hear the Word of the Lord and by our prayer commend this place to Him, knowing that all things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer” (The Lutheran Agenda, p.158).
Why gather in this house of wood? Because the LORD is here, in the Father’s Word, in the Spirit’s Baptism and in the Son’s Supper.
Why did those first families gather in the Peterson house? Because the LORD was there, in His Word.
Why was the Upper Room of the Granite Curling Club a great place to worship? Because the LORD was there, in His Word.
Why did our members gather for worship in the Cypress Elementary school, the parsonage basement, the Alderwood Elementary school and in the basement of this structure? Because the LORD was there, in His Word.
Without the LORD, David’s life would have remained sin-stained and worthless. Without the LORD, this altar would only be a tall table. Without the LORD, this house would only be a shelter from the weather.
But because the Good News of sins forgiven through Jesus is read and preached and taught here, the LORD is here. That’s why this house is more than a refuge from the rain. It is a refuge for sinners one and all. It is a shelter where sins are removed. A shelter where peace lives and is distributed. A shelter where the glory of God is seen by faith, through the message of Jesus Christ.
May this house, ever be a place where the LORD dwells by His Word. And may our hearts be the same.
The peace which comes from God, which far exceeds all our understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.