Adoration and Praise – Entering the Temple of the LORD

Day 2 – Morning – Psalms 9-11

Ran across this gem while singing the Psalms this morning – an instrumental interpretation of Psalm 24:2 –

for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters

by the praise band, The Ramp. It’s part of an album titled Ascend: Prayer Instrumentals that includes interpretations of the ten verses of Psalm 24. After snatching it up for my collection of Psalm settings from iTunes – now at 698 songs (see Footnote below) – I prayed for a while using this powerful collection and then got to thinking…

I have often marvelled at the how the editing and gathering of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures coincides with the destruction of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples by Babylon and Rome. By the Kebar River, Ezekiel experiences a vision of a third Temple – one not made with hands, recorded in Chapter 40-43 of his prophetic testimony. As I have studied these foundational events and the profound effect they had on God’s people, I have come to believe that for Jews and for Christians, the scriptures became God’s Temple for us that could not be destroyed. I’d love to spend more time with this notion – having found so little made of it in print – but that will have to wait for another time.

Suffice it to say for now that if God’s Word in Jewish and Christian scriptures is our Temple – our sanctuary and place of refuge and formation – then the Psalms must be the gates of that Temple. Perhaps that explains this powerful obsession God has given me for all things Psalms for several years now – with no signs of abating anytime soon. And this obsession, by the way, has opened my eyes of an entire culture of praise threading its way through the centuries as countless other worshippers have been drawn to these gates of Praise.

The Psalter guides us to the heart of God
to the place of sanctuary in the wilderness

I had a vision of curating a worship experience cultivating this entry – using the music of this album – or music very much like it – along with special lighting (laser and candle, digital and incandescent), in a darkened, comfortable, open space with carpeted floors and a screen for displaying something like the iTunes Visualizer. We could focus on each of the verses in turn, using them as a mantra, until we immersed ourselves in the spaces between and beyond the words, not for understanding, but to experience the living praise of our God and to enter the Courts of the LORD – to be transformed and healed and resurrected there as the people of God. Lost in wonder, love and praise.

Footnote:
It seems as if the more I explore, the deeper and more unfathomable the Psalms become. This past week, I have discovered that the second (Easter) portion of Handel’s Messiah includes Psalm settings of six of the Psalms, including four settings of verses 1-4, and 9 of the Second Psalm. In late November, I rediscovered The Psalm Project – a Dutch group of Christians dedicating themselves to arranging contemporary versions of the Genevan Psalter settings (they make all of their lyric/music sheets available for free and have recorded several of their albums in English).

I also discovered a Hebrew rendering of the 15 Psalms of Ascent – by Waltraud Rennebaum and the Ensemble Shoshan. I’m on the hunt for a singable collection of these pilgrim songs. Earlier in November – November, 2016 was a great month – I stumbled upon Handel’s Dixit Dominus, a nine movement interpretation of Psalm 110. Apparently this is a thing. And little wonder, as the 110th Psalm is the most-quoted Psalm in the New Testament.

Finally, I found  wonderful, 22-part interpretation of the 119th Psalm by Charles Ciepiel, which matches the text wonderfully and powerfully. This find in September – and I’ve since had the opportunity of using it in devotions over the two and a half days the BCP assigns the readings of the 119th. Speaking of which, I have included calendar appointments on my master calendar for all of the monthly BCP readings/singings/prayers of the Psalms. Evenings are still much harder that mornings, but I’m getting there.

You Are Forgiven! Feed My Lambs

160410-GraphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, April 10, 2016 as part of an Easter series: And Now a Word from Our Savior (John’s Closing Word from the Good Shepherd). Sermon text: John 21:1-19. The key verse is John 21:16:

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

Peace! Go As God Sent Me

160403-GraphicSermon preached by Rita Fry at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, April 3, 2016 as part of an Easter series: And Now a Word from Our Savior (John’s Closing Word from the Good Shepherd). Sermon text: John 20:19-31. The key verse is John 20:21:

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Here I Am! Go Tell the World

160327-graphic*Sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016 as part of an Easter series: And Now a Word from Our Savior (John’s Closing Word from the Good Shepherd). Sermon text: John 20:1-18. The key verses are John 20:18:

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

*Special thanks to Sabrina Malone for filming the Sunrise Service at Wyoming Park!

Tears Among the Tickertape

160320-graphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016 as part of a Lent series: Christ Heals Our Past to Save Our Future (Jesus Completes God’s Salvation History). Sermon text: Luke 19:28-42. The key verses are Luke 19:41-42:

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Christ: Our Way Out of No Way

160313-graphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, March 13, 2016 as part of a Lent series: Christ Heals Our Past to Save Our Future (Jesus Completes God’s Salvation History). Sermon text: Isaiah 43:16-21. The key verse is Isaiah 43:19:

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Let’s Eat! God Rolls Away Our Reproach

160306-GraphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, March 6, 2016 as part of a Lent series: Christ Heals Our Past to Save Our Future (Jesus Completes God’s Salvation History). Sermon text: Joshua 5:9-12. The key verse is Joshua 5:12:

The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

With Christ Our Way, We Cannot Fail

160228GraphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Vicki Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, February 28, 2016 as part of a Lent series: Christ Heals Our Past to Save Our Future (Jesus Completes God’s Salvation History). Sermon text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. The key verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

We Live As the Promise of God

160221-GraphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, February 21, 2016 as part of a Lent series: Christ Heals Our Past to Save Our Future (Jesus Completes God’s Salvation History). Sermon text: Genesis 15:1-12; 17-18. The key verse is Genesis 15:5:

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring ]be.”

Give and Tell (God’s Story Well)

160214-GraphicSermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Bo Gordy-Stith at Whatcoat UMC on Sunday, February 14, 2016 as part of an Lent series: Christ Heals Our Past to Save Our Future (Jesus Completes God’s Salvation History). Sermon text: Deuteronomy 26:1-11. The key verses are Deuteronomy 26:8-10:

But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to theLord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him.