Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Psalm 122 - A Pilgrim's Psalm

The first church I remember attending - It is now closed


The third of the 15 Psalms of Ascent begins with a verse that I memorized in Sunday School when I was probably about six or seven: “I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord.” I can’t say that verse without remembering the dark paneled interior of the hundred year old church (pictured above) we attended so many (many, many) years ago. I would love to go back – I would be so thrilled to enter again the place where I first learned about God –therefore I can imagine the anticipation of the Jewish pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem and approached the temple, the house of the Lord.

Verse 2 says “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.” The growing excitement pauses as the psalmist veers off to describe Jerusalem and to tell us why they are there: to praise the name of the Lord. There is great enthusiasm in those verses as well, but we are reined in by the solemn statement that “there the thrones for judgment stand”.

The ending verses are somber, also, yet hopeful as the pilgrims are enjoined to pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”

How does Psalm 122 relate to 21st century Christians? I should be excited to go to church and thankful that I get that opportunity much more often than the few times a year that these pilgrims had when they marched up to Jerusalem on feast days, reciting the psalms. I need to remember to “praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel”. And I must always “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. Boy, that is certainly a current concern. Is Jerusalem ever out of the news?

“Peace be within you.”