Yesterday we had an important information meeting at church which included a presentation by a secular organisation, whose representative would not, I suspect, profess an active faith of any kind.
We began, as any church gathering would, with a short act of devotion, in which I invited "those who felt comfortable so to do" to join in the responses. Our guest politely and quietly sat in with us, observing, I thought. This is what we shared.
This is the place, and this is the time;
Here and now, God waits to break into our experience;
To open our minds
To revitalise our lives
To transform our understanding
To help us see the world, and the whole of life afresh
To fill us with hope and joy
To give us confidence for the future
This is the place, as are all places
This is the time, as are all times.
Here and now let us worship God.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life for evermore.
At the start of his presentation, the peaker thnaked us for our welcome and for including him in our devotions (I had mentioned gratitude for his company in our prayers).
After the presentation, we had a tea-break during which I chatted to the guest speaker. Diffidently he asked me "may I take away the devotions sheet". Of course!
Then he pointed to the line in Psalm 127 , "Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord" observing that's really beautiful, and then told me, like any proud father of young boys, about his two sons, the one who had been tap dancing in the bathroom late at night, and the one who had gone with him to the office to print papers for our meeting and had drawn a picture of a tractor. "Precious moments" I said.
The thing is, I had very nearly chopped the second half of Psalm 127, feeling that it didn't quite fit - and then thought "hang it, it's a short Psalm, we should have it in full".
And so, indeed we should have.
I have no idea what the ultimate significance of any of that is, and actually I'm not too concerned.
But that precious, beautiful moment in the middle of a meeting .... that'll be God, then!