Preparing for Worship – George Mason, senior pastor.
“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD!’ ”
Psalm 122 is what is called “A Song of Ascents.” Jerusalem is a city on a high hill, and the Temple was on the top of the top of it. People would travel uphill, ascending to the house of the Lord.
We’ve been in a virtual valley for 15 months. Our ascent to the house of the Lord began a few weeks ago as we prepared spiritually to return. For some, it’s been a joyful journey out of darkness toward the light. For some it’s been uphill all the way, a strenuous march to shake the fear of socializing again. Some are near the front in the processional to the house of the Lord, others near the rear. It’s okay, friends, wherever you are.
Our English friend, the poet and priest Malcolm Guite, says in his poem “Singing Bowl”: “Begin the song exactly where you are, / Remain within the world of which you’re made. / Call nothing common in the earth or air, / Accept it all and let it be for good.”
We’ve been fearing earth and air for more than a year now. The challenge to us is indeed to “accept it all and let it be for good.” That doesn’t mean the virus that had spread through the air is good or that all the people of the earth have behaved well throughout these months; it means that by accepting it all we can begin to look at how it might leave good as well as ill in its wake.
“All things work together for good,” St. Paul tells us in a favorite but often misunderstood verse (Romans 8:28). Overly pious readers are thus wont to see everything as good or at least as good in disguise. But the deeper truth is simply that God is never thwarted by evil. God can bring good from bad without doing bad to bring good.
So, how do you come into the house of the Lord today? I hope you come with longing gladness, but even if it’s with lingering sadness, “begin the song exactly where you are.”