Go Now In Peace

Good Morning Church,

For myself there is nothing better in this world than spending an afternoon with Steph, lost in the woods. I love being getting out on the trail with her and being able to let down my guard as it might be. It is a freeing experience. I am so grateful to found such an adventurous person to call my spouse because it has opened me up to the possibilities of what life can bring. Steph and I have been married for a little over 4 years now and we chose to head out to the western portion of Canada for our honeymoon. If you have not been to the Rocky Mountains, I would highly recommend going. That first moment that you see the mountains as you are driving towards them is humbling and awe inspiring. I remember driving through the plains coming out of the city of Calvary, choking up at the sight of these majestic spaces. The beauty of the mountains took my breathe away and I could not have been happier to be experiencing such a profound moment in my life with my amazing wife who encouraged this trip. I knew that this moment proved for me that my wife leading would always be the right decision.

For many of us we can recall places that have evoked this kind of humble amazement. Maybe you have felt this when we have walked the streets of a big city like New York, or when you have seen beauty like the Pa Grand Canyon, or maybe you experience this when we worship inside our sanctuary as you look up at the stained glass depicting Jesus teaching the temple leaders. There is a reason why the church has built structures in the ways that we have. How many of us have stepped foot inside a huge cathedral? The first moment you step inside the sanctuary and your eyes are drawn upward towards the massive arched ceiling and we are reminded of the power and majesty of God. There is a reason we build structures in this way, to remind ourselves of how immense God truly is. There is something truly otherworldly that we experience when we step foot into spaces that humble our hearts and point us towards the power and majesty of God.

The psalmist is loving and longing for the space to be in the presence of God and to experience this kind of a moment. The psalmist is desperate for both the “courts of Yahweh” and for the "living God”. The psalmist showcases the temple because this had been the dwelling place of God throughout Israels history. Remember that the temple was actually simply the meeting space that surrounded the tabernacle. The very same tabernacle, maybe not the same tent, that Moses would enter when the people were in the wilderness and he would seek guidance from God.

The psalmist longs to be in the dwelling place of God because this place is lovely and beloved. The writer knows they will experience peace through love and they desire to be able to escape for just a moment in the presence of God. The tabernacle was that precursor for the temple that would be built in Jerusalem and it would be the central part of the temple. If you were to look at a drawing of what we think the temple looked like, you would see the courts and porches of the temple and in the center would be the tabernacle, next to a really big fire.

The writer longs so much for the courts of God that they are even about to faint. They simply can not stand to be apart from God any longer and want to make their way in this the divine presence in the temple. “Soul” and “longs” and “faints” are the passionate words of a lover for his beloved. In this case, the beloved is the courts of Yahweh––the temple––the place where the psalmist can be in the presence of God.

I know many of us have longed to be in the temple, as it may be. We have longed and desired to be in our sanctuary, to be able to embrace that moment together. I am excited for this moment. I know that there are going to be fears about going back in and concerns, all of which should be taken with the highest degree of understanding. Yet, we will get to have this moment of entering back into the courts of God. In the mean time though, we are still here, here worshiping the living God in this space. God is no longer bound to the temple, or the tabernacle, but is moving around all creation because the Spirit resides in us. We have all become a temple for the Holy Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul said of Jesus’ followers, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God.” The experience that the psalmist was yearning for is no longer bound to a place, but is present wherever we go. It’s for this reason that nature has always been so important for me. On our honeymoon, we went to one spot twice called Emerald Lake. It was located in British Columbia and had simply the most perfect scenery. The lake was a rich blue color from all the glacier sediment in the water reflecting light from the sun. There is a reason that Gatorade has the glacier flavor, the water up there really does look like that. At the base of the lake was a cabin structure that had a little cafe and a shop. There was a dock lined with red canoes, which of course we took full advantage of. There were coniferous trees that lined all the edges of the lake and all of this had the beautiful backdrop of a gorgeous mountain range.

Being in this space on the two separate occasions that we went there, you could feel all the problems of life melt away. This space was like a sanctuary in that it drew you in and set you free to simply be present in the moment. Whether it was taking a hike around the edges of the lake, through the trees and over streams, or taking a canoe out for a spin, the world seemed to stand still in those moments. I am grateful for them, because they are forever burned into my memory.

This psalm rejoices in the fact that being in these places where God resides, we are blessed. The beauty of the moment transforms our hearts and moves us to a state of freeing bliss. It is my prayer too, that as we prepare to go into our sanctuary in a few short weeks, that you too will have this experience in there. It is my prayer that we will feel like we have been set free by the grace of God, even if things are a little different than we might have imagined or they were before. Our world is always going to look a littler different, but this does not stop the power of God to work in our lives. Let us take the next few weeks to center ourselves, to prepare ourselves, and focus ourselves on the transformative power of God. The love of God is not restrained to any building or place, but let us also recognize the grace that we experience in the presence of Gods house. Amen.