“And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.” Ezra 3:11-13.
What amazes me about God is that He takes us as we are. He does not wait until we have our act together to receive us. Ezra describes a somewhat confused and disorganized scene of worship. Some people praise God from a place of joy while others praise Him with hearts that throb with sorrow and longing. The people are united by their worship of God, not by their emotion and God hears them, one and the same. That gives me hope for the days when I come to Him battered and broken hearted.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life… We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:1…3, 4.
Jesus not only takes the punishment we deserve, but after his death and resurrection, he invites the doubter to reach out and touch his wounded side and pierced hands (John 20:27). How is it that He invites the unbelieving into such an intimacy? And why does He do this? To draw us into the friendship and joy of knowing the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and fellow believers, past, present and future.
I have grown to dread those awful Holiday moments…having to share the table with relatives who drink too much, say cruel things, as well as the moments when I am the one who wounds. Last year I had a revelation that turned out to be a grace; the Holidays are not about family drama, they are about Him. If there is anytime that I am supposed to extend grace to others as well as myself, it is over the Holidays. When the arrows start to fly and I am intentional about allowing His grace to rule, it is an act of praise and worship. Dysfunction, broken lives and disappointment can not overpower the love of God. Every act of worship, be it from a heart of joy or sorrow is received by the One who loves me.