GLORY IN A TENT

Have you ever seen glory in a tent? What is your experience
of tents? Mine includes a week on Anglesey in a tent with another BB Officer
attempting to help run a camp while it poured with rain incessantly, and also a
week at Taize with young people of different European nations when the sun
shone. The latter experience was undoubtedly more enjoyable and taught me a
lot, but glory?

However, when John’s gospel tells us about how.God’s son
came to live among us, he says,”The Word became flesh and made his
dwelling (literally “lived in a tent”) among us. We have seen his
glory….”

What is this glory we have seen? This is what John has been
telling us in the bit before this. This “Word” is the one who was
there before creation and was God’s partner in bringing the world to be. He is
the light that shines in the darkness and evil of this world, and that darkness
cannot overcome it or snuff it out. That light shines on every person, and
gives to everyone who will receive him the right to be a child of God. This
person could be none other than God. But would you put up God in a tent?
Apparently, God quite likes the idea. Throughout the time the Israelites were
wandering in the wilderness and even after they had entered the land, he lived
in a tent – usually called the Tabernacle, but tabernaculum is just Latin for “tent” – and didn’t seem
that keen to move into a fixed building when David suggested the idea. Solomon
built a Temple, but Solomon doesn’t have as good a reputation as David for
being in tune with God’s wishes in Scripture.

Why should God like tents? Firstly, because they are
humble. If you walk into the British Foreign Office, or the Capitol in
Washington, or the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, you are meant to be awed
into silence by the grandeur of the architecture and the decoration. The
message is that you are in the presence of one of the world’s great powers and
you should be respectful. But the greatest power of all preferred his earthly
dwelling to be a tent – probably like a Bedouin tent. He is humble and
accessible to us in our need, and far from cowing us into submission, he wants
to be our friend.

Secondly, tents are portable. God and his glory is with us
wherever we go: he is not tied to sacred places. Wherever we go, whatever
trouble we may be in, we can talk to God, and he will listen and talk back to
us. And he will help us. We can never wander outside his sphere of influence,
because that sphere extends to every place.