O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.Psalm 130:7
Do you prepare to go to church? That might sound a little weird, right? Preparing to go to church? You probably just wake up, put on a little bit of makeup, and get on the road just like I do. We’re lucky that, today, church is just a drive away.
For the Israelites, traveling to Jerusalem for Jewish festivals (a way that they participated in worship) was a big task. Not only did they have a long journey ahead, but as they walked, they also had a lot to look forward to and a lot to prepare for. As they traveled, they sang songs (which are recorded in the Psalms as the “Songs of Ascent,” chapters 120-134) that prepared their hearts for corporate worship.
The Israelites knew that they had to prepare their hearts because they were going to be in the presence of a perfect, holy God. They reminded themselves that they are sinful people and that they must wait upon the Lord. They reminded themselves of the whole reason they were making this trip — to worship their God and to remember all of the reasons why He is worthy of their worship.
The Psalms of Ascent take us from despair to hope, from depths to heights. This verse, Psalm 130:7, is one of those heights. It talks about the hope, mercy, and redemption that we find in the Lord. It reminds us that God forgives us — that He has forgiven us and that He will continue to forgive us if we continue to turn to Him because He’s just that good.
When we go to church, we don’t prepare our hearts like this. We don’t wake up in the morning thinking about our sinfulness and God’s holiness. We don’t dwell on God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love during the drive to church. We just wake up and go. So I think there’s something we can learn from the Israelites and their Pilgrimage Festivals.
We can learn how to prepare for church. We can prepare our hearts to be in the presence of God and to participate in worship. We should remember our sinfulness but we should also remember that Jesus’s death on the cross defeated sin and death. We should remember how much we need Jesus. And we should be thankful for His sacrifice and in awe of His holiness. We can prepare for church with thankfulness, praise, and awe.
PRAYER: God, thank You for your mercy, forgiveness, and love. Thank You for being so good that You would send Your Son to die for my sins. Help me to prepare my heart to worship You, God. Teach me to be in awe of You. I love you, Lord. Amen.