Rector’s Blog: God’s Dwelling Place

God’s Dwelling Place

By the Rev. Charlie Dupree

We prayed Psalm 84 on Sunday . . . “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord God of Hosts? My soul faints for the courts of the Lord.” The psalmist goes on to express a very extreme statement in verse 10: One day in [the Lord’s] courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Wow. One day in God’s courts is better than a thousand days at Disney World or the Homestead? This poet is really excited about being in the Lord’s house. I wonder why.

This poet is more than a poet; she is a worshiper of God. She is making a pilgrimage to a holy place – the Temple – and she simply can’t wait to get there. You might remember family vacations. You’re so excited to arrive at the beach, at the amusement park, wherever. “Are we there, yet?” you may have said. Psalm 84 is a prayer offered by a person who can’t wait to get to where he is going. This psalmist wants to be as close as possible to God. He wants to be in the very presence of the God of his salvation. Nothing could be better. To spend one day in the presence of God is better than any ordinary day anywhere else.

Do you know what this feels like . . . this kind of excitement? I get excited about being in worship at St. Paul’s. I get excited about being in the presence of God and taking in God’s community. Some of us have been at St. Paul’s for years and decades. Some of us have been here only a few months or weeks. This past Sunday, we offered a time for those who are new or returning to St. Paul’s to come together and get to know each other and our facilities. Over thirty people participated! They were curious and excited about St. Paul’s. It was a joy to see them and tell them more about who we are and what we’re about. My primary message was this: God has called you here and continues to call you to move closer into God’s presence.

This is true for all of us.

I think we often forget that our worship space and all places of worship are a “lovely dwelling place” for God’s people. We come together on Sunday or weekdays in this holy space to celebrate our joys and to make sense of our sorrows and disappointment. Mostly, we come together to remind ourselves of the nearer presence of God – of Jesus. Sure, God is present in all times and places, but there’s something about coming to a specific place.

This is what the ancient psalmists did. They traveled to the Temple. As a community – a family – they traveled together, shared meals, swapped stories, watched the Super Bowl (just kidding), and they sang songs (Psalms).

We did the same thing last Sunday . . . we came together in community. Following in the footsteps of our spiritual ancestors, we’ll do it again this Sunday, and the Sunday after that.

Thank you for your faithfulness, my fellow travelers. Together, we give thanks for God’s nearness. And, when God seems far away, as God often does, you and I gather in the temple of St. Paul’s. We pray. We sing. We confess and are forgiven. We remind both friend and guest of God’s presence. The psalmist’s words are true, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord God of hosts.”

May we all dwell together in curiosity, safety, and peace.

See you in church,

Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Richmond, Virginia
Preferred pronouns: he, him, his