“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” Psalm 122:1 NRSV
I had a strange phone call the other day. I answered, “First Baptist Church, Mountlake Terrace, may I help you?” The person identified themselves and then asked, “What do I have to do to come to your church? Do I have to be a member?” I responded that they did not have to be a member, that our worship was at 11 a.m. on Sunday's and they were welcome. I still wonder why such a question? What was the caller really asking?
The Psalmist rejoices that he can go to the house of the Lord. He rejoices in the invitation to join with others in worship. He is happy to be back in Jerusalem and to be a part of a worshipping community.
I wonder if this Psalm was on the mind of Jesus as he took part in his first trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. Luke 2:41ff records his first visit, at age 12, to the city of Jerusalem—his city. What must have been his thoughts as he made the journey with Mary, Joseph and others from Nazareth? This may have been his first journey outside Nazareth. It would be his first glimpse of the Temple, its worship, etc. We know he didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay and discuss the things of God – what a delight for him, “I was glad when I was able to go to the city of my Father.”
We are now entering into the Lenten season – a time of preparation for Jesus' last journey to that city. He will enter it on the back of a young colt; he will enter the Temple for the last time, eat a final meal with his disciples and face the agony of the garden and the cross. We will recall some of those events – we may be reminded of the words spoken from the cross. We will certainly hear the words of Easter victory. But, will we be glad enough to invite others to “come with us to the house of the Lord?”
The Psalmist indicates that he is part of a group going to Jerusalem. He is not traveling alone – he will enjoy this trip with other pilgrims – they may have invited him to join in the process – “I was glad when they said to me—when they invited me.”
Jesus was part of a community going to Jerusalem. Such a large community that they traveled a day's journey home before they realized he was not with them! Both trips speak of community, fellowship time together and our need for one another. Who are you inviting with you to journey through Lent?