Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lift up your heads, you gates

A reflection on Psalm 24

A procession winds though the streets.  Starting in the countryside, in the villages by the sea.  People come out of houses as the crowds pass, joining in the throng as they wind their way up the mountain road towards the place of worship, singing praises as they prepare themselves for the festival, culminating before the gates, the entrance of the sanctuary, ready to meet with their God.

Psalm 24 (NIVUK)
Of David. A psalm.

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Saviour.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty –
he is the King of glory.

Everything in this universe belongs to God.  He is the creator and sustainer of all life.  In Him the universe had its beginning, when He spoke the words “Let there be light”.  The pulse of life, that animates inanimate matter, making it a living thing, comes from his very breath.

God is Holy.  We approach Him with awe.  Who is worthy to enter into His presence?  None of us, if we rely on our own strength or will or “goodness”.  Yet when we stop relying on our own self righteousness, and trust instead on the redemption that God has made available through His grace, when we turn to Him for forgiveness, then it is God Himself who can cleanse our hands and heart.

Having received that redemption, we can approach with confidence to meet with God himself.  It is His promise that if we seek God with all our heart He will be found by us.

Jeremiah 29:12-14a (NIVUK)

12 ‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.

He longs for us to turn our hearts towards Him.  He calls each generation to be the generation that turns to God, to again make Him the focus of our lives instead of ourselves.

So we now approach the gates, the ancient doors. We stand at the threshold of a Holy Presence.  It is our choice whether we allow God’s presence to become real to us, or whether we remain with closed minds and hearts.  There is far more in this universe than what can be measured or observed through science, but we need to be willing to look beyond matter and into the dimensions of the Spirit.

When we catch the barest glimpse of the Glory and Holiness of the presence of God, the only natural response is to worship.  He is greater than the whole of the universe.  The infinite is beyond what our finite minds can comprehend.  We resort to images, which are no more than metaphors for what is beyond description.

Who am I to approach the creator of the universe?  Who am I, to be presume to be able to write about these things?  It’s easy to fall into the habit of relying solely on my own skills, my own strength, my own fallible “goodness”. 

Lord, that there would be less of me, less of the imperfect, and more room for You to work through me.

When I turn my attention off myself and back to God, all that is imperfect fades into the background.  It’s not really about me at all.  It’s about You, Lord.  When I’m contemplating Him, I don’t want to leave that place, that Presence.

The call goes out to the whole earth.  Beyond myself, into my community.  Beyond my community, to the ends of the Earth.

Revelation 7:9-10 (NIVUK)

9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’

All are called to worship Him.  There are none excluded except those who choose not to come.

At that time, the cosmic battle will have been won.  Death itself will be no more.  Eternity will stretch before us. But that’s another post. 

I choose to begin Eternity in the Now.

Thanks to Gillian for praying this Psalm with me.  And thanks to Gary for introducing me to praying the Psalms.

1 comment:

  1. You are welcome Claudia! And thank you for being willing to share your own conversation with God out here in the blogosphere. It is a blessing.