Sunday, The Fifth Week of Lent

Celebration and Worship

“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her.”

Isaiah 66:10

Worship!  Our unique calling as the gathered people of God is to worship.  When we come together as one body, the focus of our gathering is the worship of the One who has made us one.  This is our identity.  We are worshipers of the One True God.  In these Songs of Ascent we have witnessed our pilgrimage from exile to freedom in Christ.  We made the journey, entered Zion, and established our home here with Him.  But it was not by our own power.  God Himself has birthed within us the desire to come home.  He gave us the will to persevere, and He alone deserves honor.  This is His home, His resting place, and He has made the Way for us to live in Him.  The only appropriate response is for us to worship Him.

When the returning exiles had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and the Temple had been restored, Nehemiah the governor called for the people of God to come together and celebrate.  He said, “At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem we sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres…Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks…So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me…And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (12:27-43).

As we come toward the conclusion of our Lenten pilgrimage and the final three Songs of Ascent, it is time to lift our voices in praise of the One who has delivered us from exile and brought us home to dwell with Him.  God has cared for us every step of the way.  He has provided for our every need.  Now it is time for us to give thanks.  The prophet Isaiah exhorted the exiles to rejoice together, and give thanks.  For if we make Zion our home, we will know the peace and comfort that comes from God alone.  He will be our God, and we shall be His people.  The prophet says:

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; 

that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.  

For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, 

and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. 

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.  

You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants, 

and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.”  (Isaiah 66:10-14)

Let us rejoice and give thanks with the Psalmists as we sing together these final Songs of Ascent. 

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