Worship … Taking In the Sights and Sounds

We are getting ready to open our doors for worship again. It’s been almost two months since we’ve been inside to worship together. Oh we’ve done the drive-ins, online, streaming …. but not together in the sanctuary.

The Ascent Psalms are part of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Torah gives several feasts, festivals, and fasts. Three of those festivals were the biggies … the Shalosh Regalim (שלוש רגלים) – Passover, Pentecost and Sukkot (booths).

The Israelites were to travel to Jerusalem for festivities and worship. The 8th of these Psalms give us an insight to the sights and sounds one might encounter inside the big city of Jerusalem. Now this may not be the intent of the Psalmist, but it sure made me think.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain
… can you imagine seeing the splendor of the Temple, the majesty and grandeur. Today we might look around at great sanctuaries and think the same.

The National Cathedral in Washington, stock photo


Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain
… and you look around and see the Temple guards. I envision military type security but with regalia. But at churches today, we have security, mostly hidden though. However, my mind thinks something different … like grandmas telling children not to run, nervous OCD people making sure flowers are perfect and the lobby is pristine, and nitpickers pointing out errors in the bulletin. They may think they are the new ‘guard’ but what we really need is to make sure God is there watching over us. These other things may be nice, but don’t really matter in the scope of eternity.


It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep
… it’s a festival, party city. The busy-ness, the food, the late nights, and the sounds keeping people awake. Maybe you stay up late wondering if your sacrifice is good enough, is you’re new outfit in style, what will people think. You’re so nervous, so distracted, so anxious that you lose sleep. That is vanity.

Today, we can get so anxious and distracted, we too miss your on what God has for us in worship. This is especially true for worship leaders and pastors. We’re so busy preparing and leading we don’t even do what we’re their for … worship.

Behold, children are … so many things. The last three verses talk about kids and how they are blessing. Can you imagine the kids overwhelmed at the events, the city, the splendor off all that is going on. You hear laughter, squeals, little feet hitting the road as they run around exploring. Like mayhem at recess … I love it.

I love kids in church. Active, noisy toddlers, crying babies, rustling of paper as they draw or pass notes (in modern day, this is more tapping on phone with games and texting to people across the aisles). It’s a spirit of aliveness and vitality. It shows we are a family church.

I mean I was that way … though I did get labeled as a rotten PK (preacher’s kid). I’d crawl under the pews, pass notes, write in the hymnals, look at pictures in the Bible … rather than watching the preacher (aka Dad). I even did an occasional paper airplane (but I kindof paid for those later – big time)

But I was at a place that had people who cared about me. And that is one of the reasons I still go to church. How are we treating our kids today? Are we drawing them in or driving them away?

Sights – sounds – kids – stuff happening … I love it when church is alive. Nothing worse than singing joyful joyful or about the goodness of God, but we’re looking like we barely have a pulse and need to be on life support. Where are the smiles, the praises, the happy expressions of people blessed by God?

May we always have looks of wonder and awe when we worship

So this week, when you look around … be grateful for the people. And cut that little imp of a kid some slack. He may grow up to be a preacher one day and pastor your grandchild.


Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

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