March 22, 2020
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD (Ps 122:1, AV). This exclamatory expression of David’s is indicative of the excitement pilgrims felt when they made their obligatory journey to the house of the Lord. As the third psalm of ascent, when viewed in tandem with the 120th and 121st psalms, the pilgrim or psalmist has gone, per the New Interpreter’s Bible, “from dispersion (120:5–7) by way of a journey (121) to Jerusalem” (122:1–2). Palpable is a sense of relief and overwhelming jubilance on the part of the psalmist, upon having arrived in the courts of God’s house. A true sense of excitement ought always to accompany attendance to God’s designated place of worship.
Amid this season of tumultuous crises, with a deadly virus suddenly descending upon our world setting off a chain of cataclysmic events with a vengeful fury, especially in this last week of chaotic unsettledness in which bad news piled on top of bad news; like the pilgrims described in the Psalter, we should be gladly looking forward to the solace offered us in the house of prayer today, on this Sunday morning. Indeed, our pathway this past week can also be likened as one that carried us from dispersion by way of a journey to our Jerusalem, which is the house of the Lord. The pilgrims came from several places down the roads of differing routes to converge on one central place for the purpose of unification in the collective worship of God in one particular place. Weary of travel, they gladly accepted the invitation to worship a God who alone could refresh and strengthen them, perhaps being mindful of the words of Nehemiah the governor and Ezra, the scribe, who gathered and stilled the people in a time of travail. The Bible described it on this wise: Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of the people, This day is holy to the LORD your God. Don’t mourn or weep. They said this because all the people wept when they heard the words of the Instruction. Go, eat rich food, and drink something sweet, he said to them, and send portions of this to any who have nothing ready! This day is holy to our LORD. Don’t be sad, because the joy from the LORD is your strength! (Neh. 8:9–10, CEB).
I challenge each of us this Sunday morning, in spite of it all, to not be sad! May we bathe ourselves in the presence of God. Albeit, we may feel dislocation in that we are refined to our several homes, nevertheless, praise God that we can still connect and come together by whatever means of technology and/or in the spirit on this day, at the designated moment and time to exalt the name of God, reminding each other that God is still good, and informing the devil that he is yet defeated!
Further down in the 122nd Psalm, the psalmist shares that the pilgrimage and the activity to be carried out upon arrival is compulsory by stating the following in regard to the holy city and the house of the Lord: That is where the tribes go up— the LORD’s tribes! It is the law for Israel to give thanks there to the LORD’s name (Ps. 122:4, CEB).
Wherever you may be sheltered in place today, give God thanks! It is the law for this hour! Together, whether in person, via technology, or in spirit, we stand as one in the house of the Lord. Let’s have church!
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.