One thing

Today’s Bible readings are Isaiah 29.17–24; Psalm 27; Matthew 9.27-31.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple (Ps 27.4).

Advent provides an opportunity for us to remember what really matters. For so much of our lives we are taken up with the many tasks and aspects of daily living. So busy and rushed are we that we lose an overarching sense of purpose. I think it was Elton Trueblood who said, ‘Too many commitments amount virtually to none’. The palmist is single-minded, seeking just one thing: that he might live in the house of the Lord all the days of his life (cf. Ps 23.6). I don’t think he seeks always to be in the temple, never to leave its precincts. It may be that he wishes to visit the temple daily, but mostly he seeks the perpetual presence of God that is symbolised by the temple. Unless there is time and opportunity to inquire of God all else becomes empty and meaningless. What matters is God.

I am reminded of other passages. Jesus says of Mary, sitting at his feet, ‘There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ The apostle Paul was similarly single minded, ‘This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 3.13b-14).

During Advent we stop and ask ourselves what is really important to us. I wonder, is it God or something else?

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