Saturday, 4 June 2016

Worship: Our true home

Yesterday, I was part of a day of worship celebrations. Our country remembers martyrs who died for their faith several hundred years ago, but this remembrance has become a bit idolatrous as many make a pilgrimage to a shrine. So many of the churches in the city came together to share an afternoon of worship. As we sang, danced and played in many styles and several languages, I was refreshingly reminded of how one day, 'every tribe and tongue' will sing before the Throne in heaven.

Lately, I'd been feeling a little unsettled, and yesterday was a wonderful chance to stop and reflect on what truly matters.

Psalm 84 reads, 'How lovely is your dwelling-place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may have her young - a place near your altar, I Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage...' - there is a deep homesickness which comes from time to time, but I come to see that it is not a homesickness for any place in this world, but a longing for eternity. A heart set on pilgrimage - in this world, we will go where the Lord calls us, and there will be times of abundance and times of hardship, but our eternal destiny is eternal worship.

I love Psalm 27: 'One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of  my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple' - that is my desire, that is my priority. Many other things need to be done, but reflecting on the story of Martha and Mary, only one thing is of greatest importance.

Moving on in Psalm 27, 'Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Saviour. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me'. One of the most painful things in my life has been rejection by my parents - it resulted in me being taken into care as a teenager, and in adulthood they do not like the choices we have made, probably largely because they spring from a faith they cannot understand. But there is such comfort in this verse - sometimes I feel it was written there just for me, it is so precious.

One of the pastors spoke on worship - what it is and what it isn't. He reminded us, in the words of John Piper, that 'mission exists because worship doesn't'. We were reminded that worship involves all of us, every aspect of our while lives, and that it is not simply a matter of music or song. We were encouraged to see God in all His splendour and glory, and to take a bigger picture of how God is working throughout the world. Often our prayers are too small and self-centred. Often we lose the big picture of the Great Commission and the greatest purpose of our lives.

It was a real blessing to have a whole day to reflect on these things and to join with others from such different cultures and backgrounds in celebrating our amazing God. Life has been busy lately, and so it was a wonderful gift to be released from my usual responsibilities to be part of the day, and I feel more refreshed than I would have been from anything else.

Let me encourage you when you feel exhausted, discouraged and perhaps uncertain: take time out to focus on the Lord. Maybe not even a whole day, maybe just an hour or two. Re-read some of the Psalms. Remember all the Lord has done for you. Remember His amazing promises. 

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