Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's Saturday, but Sunday's coming!

Stained glass window from St.
George's Anglican Church,
Fort Langley, B.C.

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 122: 1-9

TO CHEW ON: "I was glad when they said to me
'Let us go into the house of the Lord.'" Psalm 122:1

Today is Saturday. Do your thoughts flit ahead toward tomorrow with anticipation because then you can again "go into the house of the Lord"?

For David going into the house of the Lord meant gathering together with fellow Israelites in Jerusalem. It was celebrating the feast days and festivals — and they were celebrations! It meant going up to the tabernacle (the temple had not yet been built) where resided the "Testimony" — the ark with the tablets containing the ten commandments. It meant witnessing the various sacrifices, performed only by the priests, but heavy with the symbolism of God's plan of atonement, redemption and salvation for all.

What we mean when we say we go into the house of the Lord is, of course, different from David's meaning for him. But it has similarities in its regularity, the way its celebrations provide the bones of our year (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas), and the way each visit again directs our attention God-ward.

Would you miss it if it were gone — if Sunday were just another workday? If you never had to make an appearance at church again? Sometimes the way to realize how much we appreciate a thing is to imagine it gone — indeed put ourselves through actual withdrawal for a whlie.

I don't advise doing that with church attendance (stopping to see how much you miss it). But I do think it's a valuable exercise to, once in a while, think about what it would be like if church weren't there to attend.

Today, make a list of things you would miss if your church disappeared off the face of your town and you never met with your brothers and sisters in a corporate, church-gathering way. Here is the beginning of my list:

I would miss:
1. Worshiping, loudly and heartily, with others.
2. Pastor's teaching and how it focuses me on eternal things.
3. Hearing the stories of God working in the lives of others.
4. Seeing people baptized.
5. Hearing reports from missionaries about what God is doing in other parts of the world...

Would you be sorry to see it gone? I know I would!

PRAYER: Dear God, please give me a new appreciation for my church and its role in my life. I want to say with David, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.'" Amen.

MORE: Songs of Ascent

Psalm 122 is one of the fifteen Psalms of Ascent (they are Psalms 120-134). Eugene Peterson writes about these psalms in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In Chapter 1 of the book he explains their origin and use:

"These fifteen psalms were likely sung, possibly in sequence, by Hebrew pilgrims as they went up to Jerusalem to the great worship festivals.

[...] Three times a year faithful Hebrews made that trip (Exodus 23:14-17; 34:22-24). The Hebrews were a people whose salvation had been accomplished in the exodus, whose identity had been defined at Sinai, and whose preservation had been assured in the forty years of wilderness wandering.
As such a people they regularly climbed the road to Jerusalem to worship. They refreshed their memories of God's saving ways at the Feast of Passover in the spring; they renewed their commitments as God's covenanted people at the Feast of Pentecost in the early summer; they responded as a blessed community to the best that God had for them at the Feast of Tabernacles in the autumn. They were a redeemed people, a commanded people, a blessed people."
- Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. pp. 18-19.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

1 comment:

  1. Love having one day of the week that is different than the others in a special way and really looking forward to tomorrow.


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