Psalm 122: The Joy of Worship

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

The journey has brought the Israelites to Jerusalem, to the Temple Mount. They enter the gates and gladness fills their heart as they approach the epicenter of their faith, the place where they will worship Yahweh. This Psalm reminds me of the joy and gladness that has filled the faces of many congregants as they have returned to worship with the church over the last few years. Those who once called NBCC their church home, and have now returned to worship with us once again. Those who had to remain away for a season to protect their personal health, or the health of another they cared for.

I remember the Sunday that Don and Mary Badami returned to worship with us in person. They returned after an understandable, in-person absence due to ongoing medical treatments that made exposure to COVID-19 especially dangerous. They joined us online throughout this time, but being back with God’s people, being in proximity to other Spirit-filled Christians is just the way we are designed to worship. Mary entered the auditorium, a warm smile filled her face. 

Before I get up to preach, I like to sit in the front row of the church. I sat across the way from the Badami’s. Mary’s joy in worship caught my eye. Her hands lifted high, singing at the top of her lungs, a joyous smile across her face. We cannot imagine heaven, but I felt close watching the joy of this woman of God. Admittedly, tears filled my eyes, not out of sorrow, but joy. 

Psalm 122 states, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” This phrase brought back to memory Mary’s posture of worship. She was glad. I hope we approach our gathering with this same posture, a posture of gladness as the Psalmist says, firmly held together, secure in the peace of the Lord. The aim of this writing is not to condemn, not to heap guilt, not to invoke false emotion. Rather, let us reflect on the condition of our heart as we read this Psalm. Do we long for the gathering? Do we approach it with joy, and peace, and unity? 

This runs deeper than emotion, rather it emanates  from the bottom of our Spirit-filled hearts. Does the gathering of God’s people bring a smile of gladness to you? Does it lift your spiritual life, extending beyond the walls of the church and spilling out into our community? Does worshiping with the people of God energize and empower you for another week of mission to our local cities, towns, and workplaces? My hope and prayer is that we never take for granted our ability to gather and worship together. May we always receive this blessing with gladness, joy, and peace. 

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