One of the things I love about the liturgical seasons in the Church calendar is that sometimes, these sacred seasons can be whatever we need them to be. Take Lent for example.
On the one hand, Lent is a time to consider the darker shades to our spiritual journey: a forty day path of repentance, fasting, and temptation. On the other hand, Lent is a time to reflect on the lighter spiritual springtime arrival of tracing new life after a long winter.
The psalms offer worshippers a versatile experience. Feeling penitent, impatient, and imperfect? The psalms are your heart’s true guide. Feeling grateful, glorious, and awestruck? The psalms have you covered there too.
Our devotional psalm for today is Psalm 100. It’s a psalm on the sunnier side of temple worship experiences.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
From an invitation to all the earth, the Psalm then narrows in on one location: the temple. This is the place where these first Psalm singers believed the presence of God dwelled. The entrance of the temple beckons worshipers:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.
Even with this inviting image, I wonder if we can we shift our focus from something less “thousands-of-years-ago” to something more up-close-and-personal?
Justin McRoberts recorded a song in 2003 called “Holy Ground.” In it, he sings:
Now it’s not just bushes burning, the street’s on fire
My heart is learning
Every footstep falls on holy ground
Every house a church where hope is found
This is a modern psalm inviting us to see the closeness of God who dwelled in human form, whose Spirit is as close as our every breath, and who never stops showing us the divinity woven into our humanity. That is why during Lent, on a path of temptation and suffering, we can trust that:
The LORD is good,
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
We no longer make the pilgrimage to the temple so let’s remember that our Lenten journey is less about arrival and more about awareness. Jesus shows us the closeness of God’s presence and not even death can keep us from God’s love.