December 7 / First Friday of Advent
One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4
This beautiful verse from Psalm 27 floats into my mind’s eye every Sunday when I arrive in church (less harried than I used to be, now that my children are grown!) and sink onto the kneeler for a moment of quiet prayer before Mass begins. There are few more beautiful depictions of the search for God: the image of the solitary worshiper, enveloped in quiet as she gazes on the loveliness of the Lord in the serenity of his house. Such worship is purposeful, however, not passive. In this brief verse, there are no fewer than three Hebrew words for “seek” or “search for,” each one with a different shade of meaning, all of them collectively signifying that worship is nothing less than the quest for God. To situate ourselves in the space where God is, to contemplate not ourselves but God, to seek God’s guidance for our lives, this is the very stuff of the life of faith. While we may find the Lord anywhere — on a yoga mat, atop a paddle board, even, I suppose, on the golf course — our relationship with God blossoms most fully in the context of the regular exercise of religion. Being “spiritual, not religious” is not sufficient for the long run. We are called to place ourselves intentionally within the physical and temporal structures in which God may speak to us: the liturgy, the scriptures, the space of the church itself. God’s revelation does not appear “on demand,” like a cable movie; it emerges unexpectedly amid rite and ritual that we share with a community. The solitary seeker portrayed in today’s psalm is not giving a status update; he is issuing an invitation to all of us to join him.
God of glory and majesty, grant that I may wholeheartedly seek the joy of dwelling in your presence, now and forever.Amen.