Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Song for The Climb- Devotion 4

Psalm 122
122 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 for1 Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There lthrones 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 nwalls
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.

Psalm 122 is a reminder that a source of our joy is worship. It has been said that 'without worship, we shrink'.

The longer I try to live this daily goal of an uphill , the more I understand how I have missed and mis-understood worship.

I have blogged before on this fleeting topic:

Arch Bishop of Canterbury- William Temple had this definition of worship:“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, nourishment of mind by His truth, purifying of imagination by His beauty, opening of the heart to His love, and submission of will to His purpose.And all this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.”

But even this seems mechanical.

Let me write a minute on the nature of worship and then express and obvious problem.

When I catch a bass on a beautiful lake, I often don't see it for what it is- pure worship. My heart leaps at the intersection of beauty and competition, amazement and adventure.

When I am running on a beautiful Fall day and feel the cool breeze and experience the splash of a columbia colored skyline- I experience worship.

I experience a worshipful joy even when Bruce Springsteen inspires me to RISE UP and rebuild the city of ruins. I clutch my fist and echo his sentiment.

I have experienced worship when I confess sin or sit at a sunset.

But herein lies the problem- I'm pointing largely to ascetic responses of emotion that may or may not be true worship.

John 4:24, "God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." 
Is it possible to worship in spirit and not truth? Is it possible to have truth and not spirit?

Let me complicate it further: I was glad when they said to me,
g“Let us go to the house of the Lord!

How many Sunday mornings have I felt that way? Why not more?

I went to Graceland one time. I walked into a time capsule back to the 1970's. Like a stopped clock, the jungle room was once a cool place to hangout, but now seemed so plastic.

I am saddened when I see what the church did to historical sites in the middle east. They would build a sanctuary on top of it. I'm sure it was a monumental architectural achievement in its day- but the covering now seems to hide the beauty of what was real and authentic.

Before I am misunderstood here, I need to make the point clearer. My joy is worship is hampered when I just keep it to the same routine I have been doing for decades. What type of heart preparation am I doing to pull off the shag carpet and trash the plastic?

What am I covering up in man made structures that God wants to let out?

And we need to challenge the corporate body to do the same. You can't control the spirit and truth never changes- but truth is also true from all angles.

Here is a truth. When I take time in my week for personal and corporate worship- I have a better pace and more endurance for the journey.

When I grow weary of worship- I quickly fade in my climb.

I worry that we skip from church to church in some nostalgic reach for the past when what we need is a new forward leaning freshness toward our worship to reclaim the passion that encompasses truth.

And maybe that is what I am climbing to. The Psalm here is a look forward to the TOP of the mountain. I AM GOING TO JERUSALEM! Glad to go- but it will be some work to get there.

At the top of the mountain will be the culmination and climax of all that is lacking in my pitiful attempts to worship.

You may be familiar with C.S. Lewis "Footnote to All Prayers"- I might need to tag this on my worship as well.

 He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
      When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
      And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
      Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
      Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
      Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
      And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
      The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
      Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
      Our arrows, aimed unskilfully, beyond desert;
      And all men are idolators, crying unheard
      To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
      Take not, O Lord, our literal sense.  Lord, in thy great
      Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

Let me try to summarize this and link it back to the Psalm.

The Psalmist here is excited about the destination. He is going to his city, the Lord's city, and the great temple to worship.

The city not only is under the care of the Lord- it is said to be unified and peaceful.

All of this is a type and shadow.. of both the Savior and the heavenly Jerusalem.

So we should show that same type of excitement and anticipation of our type and shadow... private yes, but primarily corporate worship.

I should prepare myself to enjoy with gladness the worship in a place of unity and peace.

This preparation should not be hindered by style or my distractions or fatigue.

And this gives me inspiration and endurance for the climb. These are small tastes of a city which will stand forever. I wish I were there right now!

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