Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
I don’t remember how old I was, but I was quite young when I first memorized this verse (not in the NIV of course). I was certainly raised to go to church, and to this day a Sunday not attending a worship service feels very wrong. Of course this Psalm was written when there was only one “house of the Lord” in the whole world, and now we know that anywhere two or three believers are gathered in the Lord’s name, He is right there, and it is His “house.” (Matthew 18:20) Christians are is a strange place on this issue. There is great freedom to not being tied to a physical location, but there is great risk of taking the whole matter of worship very lightly. Houses of genuine worship are to be valued highly, but that worship must be genuine for them to have that value. Asked about the issue of the location of worship, Jesus replied, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” (John 4:21) He followed that up with, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) Having a dedicated place to gather regularly to worship is a blessing, honor, and privilege, but we must never forget that the whole point is worship, and specifically Whom we worship, and not the physical location.
This is driven home to me right now by the fact that my wife is in the hospital, and for that matter was not able to be in the sanctuary this past Sunday, though she was in the building. I know she will be very glad indeed when she is next able to gather with other believers in this “house of the Lord!” Familiarity indeed breeds contempt, and I need to help the believers here value the experience of gathering to worship. This has been an issue ever since the early Church, because the writer to the Hebrews felt compelled to say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) I am not to fail to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as this Psalm famously instructs in verse six, but at the same time I am to nurture a love for “the gathering of the saints” among all with whom I have influence.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that Cathy was able to enter the hospital yesterday, and that the staff members are starting to understand her situation. I pray that You would give them wisdom in dealing with it! I pray that You would likewise give them wisdom for the other patients who experience great pain, and give Cathy anointing as she prays for such people. I pray for Your patient endurance for her in the time until her surgery on Tuesday. May all of Your purposes in allowing this to happen be fulfilled, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!