Thoughts for the Day

Saturday, 25th November 2023: Longing for our spiritual home

Church Prayer Hagia Sophia Worship Psalm 84 Spiritual home

Reading : Verses from Psalm 84

Haggia Sophia

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion....

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Psalm 84 was apparently written by one of the Korahite temple singers, and it's filled with a longing to be back in the 'courts of the Lord', in other words in the Temple in Jerusalem. We don't know his situation, but his soul cries out for the presence of the 'living God'. He is willing to be a lowly doorkeeper, rather than a singer, just to be back to his spiritual home.

It reminds me of another famous building - the church of Hagia Sophia completed in 537 CE in its present form, which remained a Christian church for 900 years before serving as a mosque. The current construction was built by the Emperor Justinian as the Christian cathedral of Constantinople for the Byzantine Empire. Its size and the use of stational liturgy (ie worship on the move) meant the people gathered outside and 56 doors (and 100+ doorkeepers) were needed to allow them to enter in a timely fashion. How might a singer in this magnificent building also have longed to be back in his spiritual home, when away from its presence?

We still have beautiful cathedrals, but we don't need all of this magnificence to feel that a place of worship is our spiritual home. Sometimes it will be a chapel we discover on a walk that has an open door policy; at other times it will be a church which feels that thousands of the faithful have worshipped there. The church that pulls our soul will be one where there is space and time for individuals to be silent as well as to make joyful acclamations. It will welcome all. And primarily it will be a place where the living God is met through the bread and wine at the Eucharist*.

* Or Mass or Holy Communion depending on your terminology..


Living God,
You call us into a relationship with You,
and when we are away from the centre
of this worship we long to be back.
May our churches be places of
spiritual refreshment,
of renewal.
of healing,
and of peace,
so that we may continue to grow.
Deepen our prayer,
and draw us ever closer to you
this day and all our tomorrows.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look at a previous 'Thoughts' on Hagia Sophia, written 2 years ago, which include information on the doors:

You could look up this site to find out more about the Sons of Korah:

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