“How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.”
The first verse of the Psalm 84, heard last Sunday, presents a joyful, almost ecstatic feeling of the psalmist to be in the presence of God. At its most basic level, the reader could infer that the psalmist is excited to be in the temple in Jerusalem, the religious center of Judaism for centuries, and that likely was the initial intention. Certainly that dovetails with the story in the Gospel of the Presentation of Our Lord, in which Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple.
But for those of us living after the destruction of the temple during the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, what real significance does this psalm have for us?
For me, it is a matter of a certain perspective. Many of us have seen, even own, plaques or paintings or cross-stitch artistry saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” a quote from Joshua 24:15. But what if rather than just serving the Lord, we understood that we were building our homes within the Lord; that our dwelling was not where God was invited in, like a long-term house guest, but that we lived the entirety of our lives within the dwelling place of God? Imagine a home where God’s loving presence, God’s forgiveness and grace, God’s purpose and plan for our lives, permeated every room, every day, every decision? That rather than build something around God’s love, we built something within it? We could join the psalmist in saying, “Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.”
We would understand also then, that the love of God extends beyond that which is familiar and comfortable, beyond the confines of our homes to the places where so many other people dwell. As a community of faith, rather than a long outpost, we could discover together the vision of God’s holy kingdom of people drawn together in strength, hope, and gratitude.
Yours in Christ,