Psalm 122

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to

            the name of the Lord.

For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”

For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Psalm 122

 

Often we make fun of people who sit in the same seats every Sunday morning.  I suppose there could be something dark in that, something inappropriately territorial, something even approaching idolatrous.  We will always have that tendency in us to spoil things by our own self-centeredness.  But we are creatures, including creatures of habit, and there is something soothing, comforting, nurturing, in our rituals and routines.  Even claiming our space within holy spaces.

 

There is something in us that loves holy spaces.  Holy spaces literally “ground us”.  Such holy spaces might include the sanctuaries in which we worship but there are lots of other spaces in our lives in which we invest great meaning and significance.  The list is long.  The Lincoln Memorial.  Fenway Park.  Yellowstone National Park.  Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore.  The spot where the accident happened…

 

Jerusalem is such a holy space. 

 

When you are there it feels like you are in the epicenter of reality.  You can understand how native cultures would see holy spaces as the “bellybutton” of creation.  I remember being in the Old City after dark, looking up at the moon, just as I had done while standing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, realizing that Jesus himself had no doubt noticed the same moon.  In those moments we feel connected to God in ways that are seemingly unavailable anywhere else.

 

For the people of Israel, Jerusalem was God’s home.  The temple was God’s house.  The holy of holies was God’s throne.  They meant that quite literally.  Territorially.  You can imagine the flood of feelings that a pilgrim would have felt upon seeing the city rising up on its hill after the long journey to the latest festival.  They went to the city to get right with God – which would put the rest of their lives in order as well.

 

We need that sense of connectedness.  We need holy spaces.  But we ought never forget the dark side of that need – for we can just as easily leave God behind as we leave the spaces, unmindful that God in and with us makes everywhere we go a holy space.

 

Enter Jesus.  The end of ritual sacrifice.  The temple curtain torn in two, never again to hold the presence of God to a specific location, God unleashed in the world.  The promise that God is present wherever two or three are gathered together.  The world, the cosmos, a holy space, full of the presence of God.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, we need a sense of your presence in our lives.  Knowing you are with us both comforts and challenges us.  Thank you for those holy spaces and holy moments when the veil seems lifted and we come back to the center of our being.  May we be ever glad to go to the house of the Lord, to sing praises in the company of others, to be renewed and refreshed and reminded.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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One Response to “Psalm 122”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    I would love to make a trip to the Holy Land; to stand in the same holy spaces as Jesus did. No wonder you felt as you did when gazing at the moon from Jerusalem and from the shores of Galilee. You felt the presence of God more strongly. But as you say, we can feel the same connectedness with God at home, in church, and in our daily lives without making a trip to Israel.
    We can ask God as in the song, “to create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” We can sing this song of praise to be renewed, refreshed, and to feel God’s presence around us and in us, everywhere and any time.

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