Since the Lectionary omits much of the following chapters, a quick overview. Exodus 25-31 records the instructions Moses receives during his 40 days on the mountain regarding the portable shrine (the Tabernacle; chapters 25-27) its personnel (chapters 28-29), and related arrangements (chapters 30-31). Execution of the instructions follows (Exodus 35-40) but only after the unfortunate business of the Golden Calf and its aftermath.
“And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.… There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites” (vv.8, 22).
Centuries later at the dedication of the temple, Solomon prays: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). But there it is.
The Celtic Christians talked of thin places, places where heaven and earth met. The Tabernacle, a portable thin place, not in some remote place, but at the center of the camp. And, as Israel’s long history will show, G-d will sometimes reside in, sometimes bypass the Tabernacle/Temple. Charles Williams: “the sacrifice must be made ready, and the fire will strike on another altar.”
In our experience, where has G-d shown up expectedly? Unexpectedly?
What happens if we come to the second reading with the first still ringing in our ears?
Exodus starts with a list of raw materials for the tabernacle (vv.3-7); Paul sorts through the raw materials appropriate for the Colossians as tabernacle (vv.5, 8-9, 12-14). (Now it’s the peace of Christ ruling the hearts, the word of Christ dwelling “richly”).
But the dominant metaphor seems to be clothing—perhaps recalling how baptisms were done—what’s to be stripped off (v.9), what’s to be put on (vv.12, 14).
Half awake, I’m headed for the coffee. Perhaps what the text wants me to notice is that even half awake I’m making choices: what to put on, what to leave in the wardrobe.