Monday of the third week of Advent
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him,
bless his name.
I remember walking through the doors of our church when I was a child. It was nothing like walking through the gates at Disneyland. The Disneyland gates were full of excitement and anticipation; we couldn’t wait for them to open. Church was just church. Of course, church was every week and Disneyland only happened very rarely.
The temple in Jerusalem would have been a rare thing for most people. It was a pilgrimage site. Most religious observance was in the home. Most religious conversation was in the community center known as synagogue. But the temple, to go to the temple would have been something special. And the choir’s call for the pilgrims to rejoice would have been like Mickey Mouse waving to an already excited crowd.
But the truth of the poet’s call remains. Whether we are entering through the gates of the temple or only imagining what it must be like, the call is to rejoice. For God is present among us. He has gathered us from the nations. He has shown his steadfast love. He has worked wonders for our deliverance. He has shown us the path of honor and compassion. He has been a light to our feet and bread for the journey. For all this, for all this plus the scarred hands and empty tomb and breath of the Spirit and the promise of the day made new, we are beckoned to lives of thankfulness and praise. We are invited to live the joy.
Eternal God, Breath of Life,
Font of Hope, and our Eternal Joy;
Open the doors of our hearts, and the gates of your mercy
to come into our world and our lives,
and fill us with the joy of your presence.
— The prayer for Week 3: A doorway to joy