“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?” the psalmist asks.
Last time I set out to climb a small mountain, it was without supreme confidence that I would make the summit. I would have to scramble over exposed crags and sharp ridges. The breathless elevation was only occasionally relieved by shallower stretches. I was far from convinced that I had the heart, strength, and grit for it.
But the mountain makes companions out of strangers. They share footholds and caution against surprise drop-offs. Their energy encourages; and if they stumble, you cannot help but shore them up. Alone, I would not have made it.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?” the psalmist asks. Those with clean hands and pure hearts; those who tell the truth.
I try to be a good enough person. But whenever I read the more self-justifying psalms, I become uncomfortable. I am not certain my conscience can altogether bear such confidence.
But the company of those who seek the face of God includes sinners as well as saints. This week’s readings are full of both. David stumbles in his commitment to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Michal despises kings from her lofty balcony. John the Baptist succumbs to the sword, and Jesus is creating unrest in the heart of Herod. Paul assures us that God has chosen us to be holy and blameless, not on our own account but because of the overflowing richness of God's grace, which we inherit as God’s adopted children—the communion of sinners and saints.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?” We are on the quest in mixed company, seeking God’s face together. We rely not on our own strength and righteousness but on the companionship of fellow adventurers and the merciful vindication of the God of our salvation.
O God, the week stretches weary before me. Help me to find you in the crowded schedule, encouraging me on to glory. Amen.
Two readings this week focus on welcoming God’s presence. David does this by bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. As the ark arrives, David dances, worshiping God with reckless abandon. The author of Psalm 24 poetically calls a city to open its gates and welcome the great king. These passages invite us to consider how willingly we receive God into our lives. The reading from Ephesians speaks of God’s eternal plan. While circumstances may seem chaotic, God holds an eternal perspective and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. Mark tells the sad story of the execution of John the Baptist, yet another example of a righteous person experiencing persecution.
Read 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19. How do you bless others in your daily life?
Read Psalm 24. In what ways do you honor the Creator in the ways you care for God’s creation?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Where have you stumbled on your faith journey and found God ready and willing to help?
Read Mark 6:14-29. When have you experienced a guilty conscience? Did you resolve the issue that was causing the feeling?
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