Our scripture reading today is filled with expectation of sheer joy at entering the house of the Lord. This reading is in the middle of a group of Psalms called the psalms of ascent. These are the songs people would sing as they climbed the stairs to approach the Temple to worship. Several years ago I had the privilege of climbing those same stairs that had recently been uncovered by archeologists in Jerusalem. The stairs were different heights and I had to adjust my walk as I approached each stair. The Jewish scholar that accompanied us pointed out that the stairs had been built to the meter of the “psalms of ascent” that people would sing as they ascended the stairway to the Temple. He concluded his talk by saying, Jerusalem and, in particular, the Temple, is where God’s finger touched earth.
As I climbed those stairs that day in Jerusalem, I felt the sheer joy of realizing that thousands of years ago, worshippers had been filled with expectation at the sheer joy of entering the temple in the place that God’s finger had touched the earth. It gave me a much richer understanding of the joy that should fill my heart as I enter into my house of worship this Sunday.
As we enter this season, it is a season of expectation. The road to the birth of Jesus is not an easy one. That road is filled with characters and events that are not cute and cuddly, but rough and filled with tragic circumstance. But the expectation of what the birth of Jesus brings does have the capacity to override all the bumps in the road. The birth of Jesus is the center of human history. Allow the sheer magnitude of what the birth of Christ means to humanity sink in today. Let Santa Baby and the Grinch, whose images dominate Christmas in our day, fade away and let the expectation of the Savior of the world fill your heart.
Vice President, ChildHope
Prayer: Lord, I admit my expectations for this season are influenced by a world that has made Christmas into a celebration without You. Give me a new glimpse of what this season was meant to be. Even as those expectant worshippers climbed those stairs to the Temple so many years ago, let me experience a season where your finger touches my household with transforming power.
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
5 There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.