Do me a favor and please read Psalm 84.
Our psalm today is one that is considered a “companion” with Psalms 82 and 83. Three psalms that reflect a desire to worship God in his place and space. And yet all three psalms are different in their “worshipness” and focus.
We don’t know the author of our psalm today but we get a vision of it being sung as the people are traveling TO God’s holy temple. As they journey along this path they come across sights and sounds that inspire their hope and continuously build upon it. I picture them walking down this path and seeing a sparrow and swallow in their nests and being filled with the joy and hope of what “home” means. It’s a place of rest, security, joy, comfort, and peace. It’s “home.”
And as they see these birds in their homes they are drawn to what that means in the house of God. The birds become a tether to the priests and all others who minister in the temple rooms of God’s house. “How glorious would that be to be in the presence of the living God day and night!? How glorious would that be to have a home with God in his place!? Oh how I long for that!”
And the psalmist goes on to say that while that may not be the case, that they may not dwell there – they will take 1 single day there in return (vs 10). One day in the temple courts is better than thousands elsewhere. One single day in the presence of God is better than countless days never being near him. “If my job was to be as lowly as opening and closing the doors for others as they came to God – I would choose that. Whatever the job, whatever the duty given in the temple of the living God – I would be happy and fulfilled.” And why? Because God is the sun and the shield, the giver of life and love. He is the protector, guard, and bestower of all good things.
I’m struck by this reflection on worship and the joy found therein. To the pilgriming author their understanding of worship is simply being in the presence of God. To be in the temple, to be in the space God lives, is to worship him. But it’s not only a joy because they are also yearning for it and consumed by it. We read in verse two that their soul “faints” to be in worship and the presence of God! Can you sense the anticipation? The hope and joy? Have you ever felt that for worship? When Sunday morning comes and you are on your way to church, do you feel as if this was the happiest day of your life? Probably not. And I say that because I’m there as well. I love church but my heart doesn’t “faint” with anticipation as I travel to church.
I’m challenged by one author’s words that “The greater God is in our eyes, the greater will be our desire to worship him.” It’s an understanding that our worship of God is tethered to our view of him. If God is your everything than worship becomes your everything too and it’s hard to argue against it. And what’s difficult is that I know too many people who proclaim that God is everything and yet they do not make church a priority in their life.
Read the Bible?
Go to church on Christmas and Easter (we call them “Chreaster” Christians)?
Go to church on Sundays? Uhhh…weekly?
Think about this: if the Church is the bride of Christ – the one he died for, how can we not yearn to be with her in our worship of him? It is in this very house of worship that we are fed, nourished, and sent in the grace and glory of God. It is in this very house of worship that we are met head-on with the truth of kingdom living. It is in this very house of God that we are gathered, challenged, fed, poured into, and equipped to be the very hands and feet of our Lord and Savior.
You and I need to take a page of the psalmist and re-find the joy of worship. And what’s striking is that we aren’t even reading about the joy of actually BEING there! This is all the journey and anticipation of what will come! I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to them when they actually enter INTO the temple! I picture Agnes from Despicable Me getting that giant stuffed unicorn at the fair and screaming with delight, “IT’S SO FLUFFY!!”… that should be our response to entering church (minus the “fluffy” part)! Our hearts should burst with emotion, our voices should scream in delight, and it should consume us in pure radiating joy at where we are and what we get to do! I’m sitting on a plane as I write this and I want to go to church! RIGHT NOW!
Be challenged by our psalmist’s joy. Draw upon their hope and anticipation of worship and church and live into it in your own life. This means that if you are finding that you’re checking off all those “good Christian” things but not going to church…then GO TO CHURCH! If you find that you are not finding joy in the anticipation of church then I challenge you to look deep down inside and ask why? What is it that is holding you back from this joyful anticipation? What is holding you back from a near-fainting heart that wants to worship God with your brothers and sisters? Because I guarantee you that it’s not church that is holding you back from these feelings…it’s you.
 Ellsworth, Roger. Opening up Psalms. Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006. Print. Opening Up Commentary.