Church attendance is on the decline in America. I suppose too many people are feeling like Tom Sawyer when he said, “Church ain’t shucks to a circus.”
Meanwhile the psalmist prays to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life (v. 4). Now, that is wanting to go to church!
As a pastor, I always wanted people like the psalmist in my congregation, people who wish to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Maybe if more church members had shared these motivations, our attendance would have been higher.
To behold the beauty of the Lord in worship is not something most of us focus on, but it is an amazing thing when it happens. Think about it. The Transfiguration is an account of three disciples beholding the beauty of the transfigured Jesus. Those disciples were never the same again. The psalmist seemed to know instinctively that beholding the beauty of the Lord leaves a person stunned and amazed and transformed.
When I was a teenager, a stymied Sunday school teacher forbade us from ever again asking what happened to people who had never heard the name of Jesus. The psalmist, on the other hand, feels no prohibition against bringing his questions to the house of the Lord. He’s downright eager to inquire in [God’s] temple.
People have all kinds of ideas about how to reverse the decline in American church attendance. I certainly don’t have any answers. But maybe we could start by engaging in true worship, by beholding the beauty of the Lord, and by inquiring in God’s temple.
What is the most powerful experience of worship you have had? How is it like or unlike the experience of this psalmist?
God, teach us to pray as the psalmist does—to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives, to behold your beauty, and to inquire in your temple. Amen.