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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 84   

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
   to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
   my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
   ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
   in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
   they make it a place of springs;
   the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
   the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
   give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
   look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better
   than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
   he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
   from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
   happy is everyone who trusts in you. (NRSV)

I remember going to church as a child, in tow with my parents and sister, and often seeing it as an obligation. I even dreaded going as I hit my teenage years and would find my thoughts wandering to anything other than the scripture or sermon for that day. As a child, I felt that being in God’s house was comparable to making the obligatory trip to a twice-removed aunt or uncle’s house. I didn’t really know anyone, the conversations were beyond my comprehension, and I left feeling unfulfilled.

As an adult, my sentiments about church are much different. I yearn to praise with my community, nourish my faith, and hear God’s word through scripture and song. It has become part of my “routine,” but it is in no way monotonous or dull. I enter God’s house eager to learn, praise, and be fed. I leave feeling refreshed, challenged, and nourished.

Today’s psalm reminds us that being in God’s presence strengthens our hearts. We may not need to be within four walls of an ornate building to receive that blessing, but the more we choose to acknowledge God’s presence, the more blessings we are bestowed. Being among God’s grace, whether that’s in the form of quiet prayer or joyful song with our church community, is life-giving beyond measure.

Gracious God, let me ever praise you as I remain in your presence. Remind me of the blessings and strength you bestow each time I enter your house with an open heart. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens, Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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