In and Out by the East Gate
In Ezekiel's vision of the liturgies of the Temple, the prince is to approach the sanctuary via the East Gate while the people are to approach from the North. As he goes in and out by the Eastern portal, they are to enter through the North and exit through the South.
I sat with that image this morning, and as it continued to open before me I had a sense that God's whole point in setting up this dance of entering, exiting, offering, praying and witnessing is in essence of model of what life will/could look like for the people of God. If we are going to live into Covenant with our Redeemer, particularly in association with a Temple that is consecrated as God's mercy seat in our midst, then how does society at large reflect that ordering of relationships?
For one thing, the prince is being placed in such a way as to be one responsible for opening the portal to the Presence on Holy Day. When the East Gate is opened, the prince is to be present. When the Prince is present, the East Gate is to be opened. The offerings of the Sabbath day are the Prince's responsibility; and the Prince's responsibility is to provide the Sabbath day offerings. Into this tautology, another aspect of relationship develops: as the people enter in procession from the North to the South, they pass not only before the holy of holies; they also pass before the Prince.
Everyone is in an ordered relationship to everyone else. This is a grand dance between God, the Prince and the people.
We sometimes forget that worship is a grace given to us not only to draw near to God and the holy, but also to draw nearer to each other in a space and at a time that affirms and confirms our relationships to each other in the best framework of God loving us, loving each other.
In the midst of exile, in a lifestyle of despair, we can only imagine what that word of hope meant to people who lacked the space and time to dance in those cadences of worship and love with God and with each other.