Do me a favor and please read Psalm 122.
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Those words strike me on this day. I know I’ve written about the house of the Lord in other psalm reflections, especially in regards to the joy we should have in going TO church (sorry – I cannot think of which psalm those words I wrote apply to) but on this day…I reflect on the division of the children of God. And yet I’m hopeful of the time to come when divisions simply won’t exist.
See, the most harmful thing we have, as Christians, is that we all consider God dwelling in a house in our neighborhood. A building where me and my church family attend. We acknowledge other people and churches, we acknowledge other denominations but we remain divided in what it looks like in the house of God. “You use wine!? BLASPHEMY!” “You sprinkle for baptisms? Why would you do such a thing when clearly Jesus was submerged! I can’t go to your church!” “What? You don’t baptize babies? But the Covenant of God was extended to all family members regardless of age or ability to speak!” While clearly things aren’t like they used to be where people had an allegiance to a particular denomination (we have become serial church-daters) we still clearly are divided when it comes to the proper way to worship and receive the Sacraments.
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” These words were an encouragement for the believers to enter into the house and presence of God…TOGETHER. Not divided, not by race/class/creed/denomination…but together. The place where he dwelled, the place where he judged, the place where we are drawn into a physical nearness of God was/is for all people. This song of ascents encourages all singers, all worshippers, all people of God to enter into his presence, his peace, his courts, and his love. And we read that ALL TRIBES are to do this. For me I think of Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Christian Reformed, Presbyterian, Methodist, RCA, PCA, PCUSA, Baptist, and so many others. The psalmist is declaring that IT SIMPLY DOESN’T MATTER YOUR DENOMINATION! “For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be with you.’ declares the psalmist! This isn’t “Let me and my friends” enter into the house of the Lord. This isn’t “Let all those in my denomination” enter into the house of the Lord together either. And not only are they saying all those different “tribes” should do this….but let us also say “peace be with you” to each other.
In N.T. Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope” he talks about how we have work to do in the kingdom of God…today. That we don’t live for what’s next because what’s happening now is part of what is to come. So if we declare that there is love, peace, goodness, and joy in the New Heaven and New Earth (the kingdom to come) we also must declare that we are to live into those very things today. Today we must give and show love, peace, goodness, and joy. We must live it, seek it, proclaim it, and show it. We read in Revelation 7:9 that there is a great multitude of people that enter into God’s presence. And guess what – we’re not going to enter in and go to separate rooms of God’s house. We’re not going to follow signs that say “Sprinklers here” or “dunkers” there We’re not going to attend separate worship services where one is filled with drums, guitars, and dancers, while the other is organ, and the other is no music at all. We are going to enter, together…and BE TOGETHER.
So let’s stop dividing and enter together in joy, worship, and hope. Let’s ascend today, together, because tomorrow you and I could be standing before God, hand in hand, regardless of class/color/creed/nationality and worship in one unified voice. But let’s not wait for tomorrow to sing together, worship together, dance together, and praise together. Let’s do today what tomorrow may bring.