Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel

5 THE TENT WE LIVE IN ON EARTH 2 Corinthians 4

Our bodies are like tents. It is an analogy sizzling, bursting, popping with meaning.

In tents, the patriarchs and matriarchs dwelled. For four wild decades, their descendants followed suit, remaining tent-dwellers even in the Promised Land. Their children pitched tents wherever the tribes got together and their children’s children traveled to Jerusalem for feasts which involved camping outside the city…in a tent.

Before there was a Temple there was the tent of meeting. It was a portable sanctuary where God the Tabernacle-r promised to dwell. In Jesus, Christians came to see God pitching God’s tent again in our midst; a tent made of flesh this time.

The Corinthians would have connected these dots. For their pastor (whom we call the Apostle) to compare their bodies to tents provoked reflection. Paul’s choice of tent imagery shone a light on biblical tent imagery, broadly. He meant to do that.

One’s affinity for or aversion to camping aside, consider that we come from a long line of tent-dwellers. Perhaps Paul’s image is as spiritually nutritious for us to chew on as it was for early followers.

It was in this tent of a body that I pilgrimaged to something like a modern-day tent of meeting. All of God’s people weren’t there; but there, God visits, and I reconnect with my call to cultivate beloved community.

In New Bern, North Carolina, David wastes no time. He has me laughing before I can drop the cooler in the kitchen. In Tammy’s eyes is that look we get from the very few in this life—those who are truly and always glad to see us. I’m not talking square footage or decor when I describe the three days as roomy and airy…

This earthly tent tears. It’s true. But we don’t have to spend our lives trying to dwell otherwise, in a way that we are told is more secure, but actually cuts us off from the sights and sounds and souls that lead to real and everlasting life.

I’ve heard it said that healthy, happening congregations (small or large), see themselves as pitching a tent; where they are, or, wherever God calls them to be. They are porous. Their house is sacred enough for worship but not needy to the point of taking away from discipleship. It’s plenty biblical. I can believe it.