WHAT TO DO WHEN DEDICATING A NEW BUILDING
To some of my friends,
Here is something I sent to the Colombo Theological Seminary council that you might find interesting.
Dear Colleagues on the Council of CTS,
I have been ploughing through the long lists of Nehemiah as I check the new Sinhala IBS Bible. That is also part of my daily devotional reading. Each day I write what God teaches me from the Word. As I went through the lists I used to write things like “There continues the tedious list of the personnel in the different parts of the land, especially Jerusalem. The ancestors of some are mentioned. Why all these details? I don’t know yet!” for Neh 11:19-36.
Today the Lord hit me with something really thrilling. 12:24 talks of antiphonal singing–something I try to encourage when leading worship. Then came 12:27-29: THE DEDICATION OF THE WALL OF JERUSALEM. I thought there are some good things for us to use at the dedication of the new CTS building.
1. PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING WITH CELEBRATION AND GLADNESS USING VOICES AND INSTRUMENTS.
Verse 27-28 say: “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites….”
These were musicians who specialise in praising God and they were nurtured by the temple and lived near it so that they can be used when praise and thanksgiving takes place.
2. THE LEADERS PURIFY THEMSELVES AND THEY IN TURN PURIFY THE PEOPLE
Verse 30 says, “And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.”
I thought how nice if our dedication is filled with joyous praise and thanksgiving and if we can have some ritual where those who are going to use this building–the staff and the students are prayed for–their sins forgiven, with them confessing their sins and committing themselves to live holy lives of total devotion to God and his ways. Perhaps an older godly senior pastor can help lead us in this ritual of purification.
This seems to be the biblical pattern for dedication of newly constructed buildings and walls. We tend to use these as Public Relations events. Perhaps that is a side issue that is permissible. But it should never take away from the free celebratory expressions of our joy and thanksgiving and of our passion to use the facilities in ways that please God. It is possible that because of PR concerns these things can be put to a side and the programme majors on “putting on a good show.” When key public events take on that style it could serious compromise the organisation and take it down the slippery slope of unfaithfulness to God. Because God is the one who provides and sustains, our dedications should focus on glorifying God and God alone.
For fear of losing our cutting edge, we did not have a grand opening for our YFC headquarters building. I think when the renovated building is opened We will use it as an opportunity for the YFC community to praise God and recommitment herself to God and his service.
Just a few thoughts coming from my devotions!
God bless you all,