I have a problem with Psalm 84. It’s one of those poems that doesn’t make sense once you tear it apart. “My temple is a place where even a swallow finds a place to nest,” makes as much sense as, “My love is like a red, red, rose.” Howling, just feet away from the altar in Solomon’s temple, were lines of sacrificial sheep and boxes of doves, ready to be slaughtered. Temple sacrifice, up until 70 AD, was madness, bleating sheep, and nasty priests. Blood flowed on the rock where Abraham once bond Isaac. Did I mention that child abuse is one of the problems that the church is still dealing with?
So what is this psalm really about? It’s not about the church building, even though it mentions courts, doorways, and altars. Like a fine haiku, it speaks about what it doesn’t have words for. It tells us how there was a fellowship among the pilgrims as they walked for days together, over the Negev, to where they could worship. It tells us how the few days they spent crowded together as a congregation, sharing inadequate facilities with people from all over the world, was better than 1,000s of days spent in a nicer, more convenient, location. (By the way, the Hajj has been happening this week for Moslems) Its about a religious experience that the children of our churches often know better than the adults who serve as deacons and trustees. To be with other people of faith is a blessing, pure and simple.