Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 122. (MsgB)
A Pilgrim Song of David.
When they said, “Let’s go to the House of God,” my heart leaped for joy.
And now we’re here, O Jerusalem, inside Jerusalem’s walls!
Jerusalem, well-built city, built as a place for worship!
The city to which the tribes ascend, all God’s tribes go up to worship,
To give thanks to the name of God—this is what it means to be Israel.
The House of God…in Jerusalem.
Back in the days of King David, in order to go to the House of God, you had to pick up your belongings, rent a donkey or two, make a few motel reservations, and head up the long winding road to God’s Holy City.
Three times per year, God’s people would stop everything in life and take the costly journey to the House of the Lord. Once there, it was a royal celebration. A grand family reunion. A party to end all parties. There, in the presence of the Lord, all of God’s people, ranging from Aunt Louise from Poughkeepsie to Great Uncle Horiwitz from Tarsus, were there.
Oh yes, the priests made sure all the activities were done in the right way. Stand in a long line. Buy a pair of pigeons. A young calf or lamb if you had the money. Wash your feet and hands. Wash the pigeons’ feet (and wings!). Go stand in another line. Wait your turn for a nice young priest to come to you, taking your pigeons in exchange for a family blessing. Watch your pigeons be sliced in half and offered to the Lord God. Kneel and pray. Go back to your family, have a nice dinner at Applebee’s, party with friends and family until bedtime. Try to get a bit of sleep in the pop-up camper that is filled beyond occupancy limits. Get up the next morning and do the whole thing over again!
Now to us, here in the 21stcentury, this whole process seems crude and far removed from anything we’d consider as an exciting family celebration. But to the men, women and children of Israel, living between the times of 1,000 BC and 70 AD, this was the highlight of your year. Three times annually, the family of God would gather in one place at one time to celebrate life while giving honor and praise to the High God who made it all possible.
The House of God…in Jerusalem.
But then came Jesus of Nazareth.
And with His coming, the House of God moved. Relocated to a more convenient spot.
Where, you ask?
Take your finger. Place it on your nose. Now move straight down about 8-10 inches, (depending on your height). Stop when you reach the center of your chest. As you’re looking down, go left just about 3 inches and there it is. The House of God. Now located directly inside your heart!
Years ago, there was a little booklet published by InterVarsity Press called, My Heart, Christ’s Home.The premise of this little classic was that you and I, as God’s chosen people, saved by the blood of Christ and redeemed by the grace of God, now have the unique opportunity in this lifetime to welcome God and all of His goodness right into our hearts.
No longer do we need to pack up the family, fly off to Jerusalem, kill a cow or two, and offer our worship to God. Today, because of the love of Jesus, we can perform our acts of love and worship right inside the comfort of our own heart.
But remember this. Just because the location of God’s House has changed, it doesn’t mean that the rules of engagement have changed as well. Coming into the House of God still means gathering together with the whole family of God, reconciling our differences so we can stand as one in front of our High King. Entering the House of God still requires us to wash our feet and hands as well. As Jesus tells us in His gospel, true repentance from our sin and selfishness is always a requirement before going into the House of the Lord.
But here’s the really good news about this whole thing. Now, rather than waiting till next October to travel into God’s presence, you and I can do it right now! Right here. Right away. Hey, wanna go together? The next mini-bus leaves in 5 minutes!
My prayer: Father God, thank You for moving Your holy presence from a Temple in Jerusalem into the hearts of Your people. How much more convenient! Yet, don’t allow me to take this great honor and overlook the significance of it all. As the House of God now lives inside me, make me aware of the great need to keep my House cleaned up. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how might I live and act differently if I truly understood the amazing significance of the House of God, now living deep inside my heart? Am I taking care of this amazing gift as I should? Am I honoring the House or am I overlooking my sacred duties as caretaker?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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