27 October 2019
Tim preached on Psalm 84. He asked us we were having fun. Had we woke up today excited to come to church?
Psalm 84 shows the joy of the pilgrim on the day to temple. Maybe we look forward to other things. It’s difficult to look at our church and initially get excited. It’s an unremarkable building and indeed Tim reflected that when he and his family came here the kids called West View Baptist Church the garage! (Was this prophetic given our later Filling Station outreach?)
But people keep coming back week after week so there must be something about it, the excitement and awe of the pilgrim trudging up the hill towards Jerusalem. What makes it different. It is the dwelling place of the Lord of Hosts. Yet still real amongst his people amongst mortals amongst us.
John in Revelations says something similar. V2 talks about the living god, not static, not trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. This God is the Lord of Hosts the living God. The psalmist remembers the longing the singing, the use of the language of birth using the imagery of the swallows. The psalmist likes birds, nesting flying with the wings of a dove. The birds need security to nest in the temple. Think about just standing in a doorway of the huge house of god being better than living in the tents of evil doers! The temple was viewed as the focal point but v6 shows that God was present in other places. The Valley of Tears or Baca is a dry serous dark place yet they find springs there courtesy of the Lord of Hosts! . The presence of god makes a difference! A dry valley yields springs and is covered in rain. They go from strength to strength. Sometimes we don’t feel like going to church, yet they are the times we most need to be there! It is important that there are special places and times to find god. We need these anchors in life. Ways that we profoundly enter into life with god! God promises when we share communion with him. These are the times that sustain us in the dry valleys and the life journeys where we might not expect to see god. Our places of worship are set aside in the hope that they might encounter the living god!
The importance of the place is not about the bricks and mortar. There’s an ethical dimension here. No good thing is withheld from those whose walk is blameless. We might run from that but the psalm singers were Just like us. They come to the temple to receive righteousness from god and renewed in worship and service to the community. Therefore we should not back away from the call from god to do his service. People should be glad to see us when we leave this building. The psalmist longs to be there. Imagine being a bat in gods belfry, a bird nesting in gods building. Can we imagine being them. Places we sing our favourite songs, celebrate family events, share sorrow at funerals. The valley is close, the years feature regularly in our lives. As we leave this place we know that he the god of the living place will walk with us. God in Christ is present with us and even sparrows fall no further than into his nail scarred hands.