"Ascending Praise" by Lynne McCarthy
Observe Let us go to the house of the Lord (1), sings Israel on their way to the Temple, rejoicing at God’s invitation as they climb the steep path. The image in verse two is potent: once their pilgrim feet touch the ground inside the gates of Jerusalem, the fortified city, God protects them from enemies.
In the Lord’s sanctuary all people “give thanks to the name of the LORD” (3-4). God’s judgment is established, for thanksgiving and judgment are inseparable. Judgment belongs to the God of all creation and of all people. The proper response of all people is to give thanks for God’s righteous rule and judgment.
Their prayers for peace in Jerusalem renew their strength as they continue uphill in joy.
Interpret The third Psalm of Ascent, sung as Israel climbs to the Temple for worship. For them, Jerusalem is a place of refuge, safety, and sanctuary.
Here is peace that only God provides for all His people. All longing for this peace is distilled in the benediction: “Peace be within you” (8). In a world of bloodshed and war, swords and spears become plowshares and pruning hooks; peace that surpasses human understanding will, by His grace and power, prevail. Whatever Israel had done or not done in its checkered history, joy marks their worship together.
Apply Here’s an attitude to cultivate as we approach Sunday worship. We can be glad for this wonderful privilege of gathering with His Body, His church, after 2+ years of isolation from one another. It’s almost a high for us after such a long separation, being able to meet together. But even if we’re down. faith and obedience draw us together in worship – God’s commandment heeded brings great blessing, personally and corporately. Worship, praise, the Word, confession, thanksgiving, Communion, blessing, fellowship – the liturgical sequence lifts us out of the bog.
It foreshadows our utter joy when we’ll finally meet God, not in a building at a set time, but forever in His Real Presence – quite overwhelming to think about! We’ll see our Father face to face in the Presence of Jesus, the Spirit whispering His praises with us. We’ll see the true oneness of Trinity, for we will be truly one with God.
We’re practicing for that time while here, so if we can become excited about worship together (a year of Psalms and teaching sermons should have helped us along), we’ll have come a long way, especially uphill!
Ask What do I, small part of this gathered community, need to hear from this Psalm? How can God’s good news lodge in my heart to make more room for Jesus, and my neighbour? How can I align my longings for the new creation while in the middle of the old?
Pray Lord, let my thoughts be centred in You; let my heart be fixed on You; let my joy be contagious in You. With my brothers and sisters, I offer thanks as our worship and prayers ascend to You, in Jesus’ name.
Sing Ps 122
I rejoiced when I heard them say - John Michael Talbot
Let Us Go Rejoicing - Michael Joncas
I was glad - King’s College Choir
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.