The Need for Sacred Space
Reflecting on the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost: Two Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 87
Old Testament: Joel 3:9-16
Epistle: 1 Peter 5:1-11
Psalter: Psalm 84:8-12
Old Testament: Daniel 5:1-12
Epistle: 1 Peter 5:1-11
Life-giving God, heal our lives, that we may acknowledge your wonderful deeds and offer you thanks from generation to generation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
by Joan Stott
How many contrasts there are in this Psalm! Alongside each other we have the images of God as the King of Glory, and our Holy and Righteous God; and birds nesting in the sanctuary, near where other species of birds are offered in sacrifice on the burning coals of that same altar! We have people joyfully travelling on their way to the Temple for worship; and the real-life drama of people travelling through the “Valley of Weeping” – and the concept that that same valley may soon become a place of refreshment and renewal from the springs of new life that are bubbling up amongst all those tears! And even as they journey through these contrasting experiences, they will be nurtured and strengthened by that journey and their arrival at their home in God.
Creative pause: Even in all our vulnerability, we will find our strength in God.
The Psalmist also wrote of the memories he cherished, and his yearning and his longing to be once more in that symbolic place of God’s holiness, majesty and God’s glory. He could only write like that arising from deep experiences of loss and deprivation. How many people feel that way when age and infirmity deprive them of going to their own “loved place of worship”? How many people yearn for the “means of grace” to nurture their souls, and yet are denied that privilege by lack of understanding, or through their life’s circumstances? How many people are unable to taste the wine and the broken bread because of their medical condition? This Psalm must surely speak to their hearts and minds, as the Psalmist acknowledged his own need for spiritual nurture, and the necessity for people to share together in worship, especially when for various reasons, it is denied to those people!
Creative pause: Yearning for the “means of grace” to nurture their souls.
The Psalmist was also very sure that eventually, everyone will have their “moment in the sun” as they each finally reach their destination before God - in worship and praise. God, who is our Light and our Protector, our Lord God Almighty, will surely welcome all God’s faithful pilgrims to their eternal home in God, and then they can all joyfully sing “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty, …happy are those who trust in you.”
Creative pause: God welcomes all faithful pilgrims to their home in God.
PRAYER: Hear our prayers, God of power, and through the ministry of your Son free us from the grip of the tomb, that we may desire you as the fullness of life and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. Amen.
More of Joan Stott’s reflections can be found here.