I don’t much like the word worship. Say the word and in my head I immediately hear an awkward, off-key version of “I could sing of your love forever.” So when Eugene Peterson says in A Long Obedience In The Same Direction that Psalm 122 is about worship, I envision making a quick read of it.
Then I read the first stanza:
“Let us go to the house of God”
Oh Lord that is where I want to be:
“Our feet are standing in your gates”
By the end of his reflection, Peterson has slowed me down and convinced me that worship isn’t a chorus ad nauseam, it is a joyful pause in which to sharpen a tool:
look at the mower in the summer’s day, with so much to cut down ere the sun sets. He pauses in his labour — is he a sluggard? He looks for his stone, and begins to draw it up and down his scythe, with a rink-atink, rink-atink, rink-atink. Is that idle music — is he wasting precious moments? How much he might have mowed while he has been ringing out those notes on his scythe! But he is sharpening his tool, and he will do far more when once again he gives his strength to those long sweeps which lay the grass prostrate in rows before him. — Eugene Peterson quoting Charles Spurgeon as quoted in Helmut Thielicke’s Encounter with Spurgeon (1963).
When they said, “Let’s go to the house of God,”
my heart leaped for joy.
And now we’re here, O Jerusalem,
inside Jerusalem’s walls!
Jerusalem, well-built city,
built as a place for worship!
The city to which the tribes ascend,
all God’s tribes go up to worship,
To give thanks to the name of God—
this is what it means to be Israel.
Thrones for righteous judgment
are set there, famous David-thrones.
Pray for Jerusalem’s peace!
Prosperity to all you Jerusalem-lovers!
Friendly insiders, get along!
Hostile outsiders, keep your distance!
For the sake of my family and friends,
I say it again: live in peace!
For the sake of the house of our God, God,
I’ll do my very best for you.
To give my brain a new image for worship, I drew two little sketches for this cheatsheet: