I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1
This short line from Psalm 122 is often used during Morning Prayer as an opening sentence, to bring the people to worship and to signal the start of the prayer service. I used it often when I was a chaplain at an Episcopal School, leading worship each day of the week to begin the day. To begin the day affirming that we are "glad," that we have a deep sense of gladness, of deep and rooted gratitude is a rich way to begin the day. Gladness, I suppose, is something like happiness, but it is less fleeting, richer, and deeper. It is common, these days, to tend toward the quick fix, the breezy statement, and the shallow. However, I believe that the richness of the Christian tradition offers us a depth and a rootedness that is sorely needed in our time.
The Psalm has this wonderful affirmation, this nearly-imperative statement of "let us go to the house of the Lord" which offers us gladness, and is an enthusiastic call to us, an invitation to come and see and to taste and see what the Lord has done and has given. Of course, we don't need to go to any particular "house" to go to God, for God is with us at all times, and is nearer to our heart than we can imagine, and knows us inside and out. While we don't need to go anywhere to be with God, the image of God's house, points us to God's Kingdom, to the way of life that God calls us to live, the "place" that God has prepared for us, where we experience gladness of heart and mind and soul. We don't need to go on a pilgrimage across the world (though that is a wonderful thing to do), we don't even need to leave the chair where we are sitting. The gladness is there for us, is here for us.
"I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!"