Psalms – Prayers of Honesty and Praise
A new family came through the doors of the church where Randy was beginning his first pastorate years ago. I knew the couple with the small toddler. They were teachers in the school district where I taught. We became closer friends as they began attending church. Their little boy was so cute and was trying to figure life out in his way. He loved coming and seeing the people and the attention this congregation gave him. They loved on him. They loved on his parents. He especially loved Randy.
One day, while grocery shopping, we ran into this couple. Their little boy was the first to notice us. He yelled to his parents, “Look, look, mommy…there’s Church!” Then he yelled to us, “Church, church, I’m over here!” We all laughed for that was his name for Randy. He didn’t know what the word pastor meant but he knew for sure what “Church” meant to him. Randy was Church.
What does church mean to you? Is it the building that attracts you? Is the music? Is it the pastor’s messages?
I volunteer to be one of the VIP representatives of our church. That means I help first time visitors feel like they are coming into new friendships in a loving, accepting environment. We don’t point out where to go, we TAKE them on the journey, showing and telling who we are and what they can expect. We show them where to get coffee, where the restrooms are, give them a program and help them find seats in the worship center that they prefer. Our church has many visitors each Sunday, so my “shift” keeps me hopping. I run back and forth to pick up the next visitors as quickly as possible so no one is missed. Others help in this process.
Two Sundays ago a woman came in with a friend. I began the VIP tour but as we talked I learned she was going through chemo treatments for her cancer. I stopped the tour and we had prayer, right there in the middle of the worship center. She came back this past Sunday with a huge smile on her face. She brought her son who, at first, had that “deer in headlights” look on his face. I worked to put his mind at ease quickly and his mom said, “See, I told you how loving they are.”
I tell these stories to express, once more, that WE are the sanctuaries of the Lord. We are His Temple. We are “church” to those who are not yet “church”. The Psalmist knew only the place where He could meet God on His terms. “God in full view”. “Zion, the beautiful city of God” is what the people longed for and made pilgrimages to see.
Psalm 84, The Message
A Korah Psalm
1-2 What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!
5-7 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!
8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:
O God of Jacob, open your ears—I’m praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.
10-12 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
“I’D RATHER scrub floors int he house of my God than be honored as a guest int he palace of sin.”
That joy turned sour when The Temple was used for everything in the world instead of meeting God. God, at just the right time, sent His One and Only Son to earth to straighten out human thinking. Jesus came to seek and to save confused, lost, depraved people in and out of the Temple. Jesus came to earth and taught us about what God really wants, how He loves and Who He really is. He taught how to love like God loves us. Then Jesus laid down his human life as the once and for all, final sacrifice for our sin. Jesus defeated death, rose again and lives in us who believe and accept what He did, and commit to follow Jesus’ teachings about God’s love. We are the Temple that Jesus builds in each of us. We are “church” to a world lost and still confused.
Like the Psalmist, I’d rather be with others who are “church” with me than with anyone else. I love being with those who love God as much as I do. I love being with those who love me back. But I also love telling others who don’t know about Jesus. I love being “church” to those who are not yet church.
If you don’t get by now…church is a person with a group of persons who seek to find, love and follow Jesus.
If you are church you know…
You are loved.
You are enough.
You are accepted.
You are redeemed.
Now, “Church”, go tell someone else!
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are amazing! Thank you for these thoughts that bring clarity to who we are in You. Thank you for telling us more and more about Who YOU are for us and in us. Thank you for loving us beyond what we deserve. Thank you for saving our very souls. Continue to speak to my heart and transform my thinking.
In Jesus Name, Amen