26 March 2009

Lenten Journal: Pilgrimage

This reflection was prepared by G, a recent graduate in our campus ministry, for last week's Wednesday services.

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 favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Psalm 84

The psalm spoke loud to me as I prepared my reflection. I have recently been in the search for a place to live, as I was evicted from my apartment February 24th. I spent the last week of February and the 1st week of March working on securing living arrangements. As I was reading, reflecting, and preparing I came to be like the birds in the psalm; both having found and made a nesting place, as I have. I, like the pilgrims in the psalm, was journeying and looking for Zion; which has come to mean, aside from a specific place near Jerusalem where God was believed to live, a safe home for a wondering people. The safe home that the psalmist is looking for is his true home, God's house.
The beauty and awesomeness of the Lord's house, which mentioned in verse 1, is the reason people make pilgrimages. On the pilgrimage one would travel through the Valley of Baca. The valley is not a location but a symbol for the hard road through the desert to Jerusalem; a journey filled with many hardships and toil, and only driven by conviction to meet God. Where the psalmist and his peers would actually travel, we are called to make this journey through reflection and a season called lent. The travel through this “valley” changes/transforms people and making them blessings upon everywhere they go.
My journey of lent has been filled with questions like “where am I going to live?” “how will this make me stronger?” and “how is God speaking to me?” The 1st of the three being taken care of I have been able to address the other two more actively. And these two questions we all should be asking ourselves. One program at LCM I participate in is Reaching In/Reaching Out. Through RI/RO we learn of our gifts and how we can use them to better the church and society as a whole. RI/RO has allowed me the opportunity to grow in faith, but I think my experiences have made me even stronger in faith. I knew the situation would work out and I think that was also how God was speaking to me. Assuring me that I have not been forgotten and it WILL work out.
As we all journey through lent we are looking towards Easter and renewed life in Jesus, we long (like the psalmist) to share in the presence of God. The psalmist know God as we have come to know him (as the Lord of all and able to be controlled by none, but also as the very personal God that we all hope for). With his expressions in verses 1, 8, and 12 the psalmist refers to God as LORD of Hosts, which roughly translated means all powerful, but he then refers to my God/King in verse 3 and addresses Him directly in prayer in 11. The Psalm assures us that the person trusting in God is the most blessed, as God will with hold no favor or honor from those that trust and travel; with power like that on our side, how can we not be blessed?

No comments:

Post a Comment