The Rector's Blog
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November 5, 2015, 11:45 AM

"Unless the Lord builds the house..."


The Annual Fund Drive is officially under weigh.

(I used the nautical terminology of “under weigh,” rather than the more common landsmen’s term, “under way,” because the annual fund drive can feel like heavy seas, complete with tall waves of resistance and small hope of reaching safe harbor!)

But I don’t really think of the annual drive as rough seas here.  I know how much you love Christ Church and this community.  We have lots to be excited about, and lots yet to do!

Psalm 127 opens: “Unless the Lord builds the house, their labor is in vain who build it.”

We might read this verse as some kind of judgment against those who do not profess the faith, but one can read it instead as a sign of God’s mercy.  How so?

I think in many cases, I fear we in the U.S. tend to make judgments about the worth of a person based on the work that they do – and if they do not work, for whatever reason, we value them little.  Sometimes we can be swayed by a story of loss and pain, of disaster or injury or war wounds that make it nearly impossible for a person to work a “typical” job.

But in other cases, we simply may not respect the basic human dignity of the poor.  They should have studied harder in school; they should have looked for a better job, or they should have not given in to addictions or committed a crime.  We do not know their stories; yet we judge.

We have somehow twisted the “blessings and curses” language of the Bible (the righteous shall receive their reward; the disobedient shall be punished) and arrived at the conclusion that the ones who suffer are disobedient, and the ones who do not are righteous.

Maybe it’s more a matter of luck, and not a question of virtue.

This is where the first verse of Psalm 127 can be a message of hope and mercy: simply put, what the Lord builds has value.

And the Lord builds houses of all kinds: not just temples, churches, or homes, but descendants and legacies, communities and families.

God works through the unlikely and unprepared to do the incredible and unexpected. The alien foreigner Ruth becomes the great-grandmother of a king.  The stammering murderer Moses becomes the prophetic freedom fighter for a nation in despair.  The child of an unwed mother becomes the King of Heaven. 

“Unless the Lord builds the house…” - but the Lord is always building the house!

If we remain attentive to who is building the house, then we do not labor in vain!


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