A NOTE FROM PASTOR CHARLIE For these devotions from September 5 to September 18, I will be sharing devotions I wrote a couple of years ago for a previous blog. These will not be following the readings for the coming Sunday, but will still offer an opportunity for Bible readings and reflection.
We will be back to the assigned readings for worship once again starting September 19.
Assurance of God’s Protection
A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
This is one of my favorite psalms. I have used it at countless funerals and memorial services. The promise of God’s eternal presence and protection rings true in these words.
This psalm is “A Song of Ascents.” It is one of the psalms that would be sung as worshippers came to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. The first verse would be sung by the pilgrims on the way, and the second verse the answer to their question. From where does our help come? It comes from the Lord.
The only way to get to the Temple is to go up! Coming up from Jericho, near the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, you climb from almost 900 feet below sea level to over 2400 feet above sea level in the 18 mile journey.
It must have been a joy and relief to finally make it to that place. Here is where God resides. Here is where we come to be in the presence of our Lord. Here is where we come to be with God.
The good news of Jesus Christ is that God comes to us. Instead of climbing up to be with God, God stoops down to be with us. Emmanuel, God With Us. This is where God meets us.
The image that comes to mind for me is Jesus baptism, where the heaven is ripped open and the Spirit descends. That ripping or tearing apart is the same thing that happens in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus dies on the cross. The curtain of the Temple that separated God from God’s people is torn in two. Love breaks through and comes to us in that gift of Jesus.
So the good news is that we don’t need to climb the mountain to meet God. But we can still echo these words that the one who is our help comes to us right where we are.
The Lord will keep your going out and you coming in (and your staying home) from this time forth and forevermore.
Thanks be to God!
Let us pray: Almighty God you are our keeper, our shade, the one who watches over us. May we turn to you for protection and promise. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.