New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie

Enter His Courts with Praise

Posted: 08 Jun 2020 06:54 PM PDT

I WENT TO CHURCH YESTERDAY (day 82). After a nearly three month hiatus, Iglesia Luterana Cordero de Dios held in-person corporate worship, with Holy Communion. You better believe I was in the “pew” (plastic chair) and at the altar. I even remembered how to get there!
Church here did mean, however, that I missed the LIVE Zoom Bible study my home congregation started a few weeks ago. After wrapping up a series on Zephaniah, we moved into an analysis of one Psalm per week. Last week’s was Psalm 100, which includes this verse (4):
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

The verse I chose to pray throughout the week by adding it to my meal prayer was verse 5 (“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”), but I digress. A fellow participant pointed out that “ENTER HIS COURTS WITH PRAISE” is emblazoned above the door to my home church, so I thought it an appropriate title for a post about entering the courts of my church on the field for the first time in 85 days. 
It might go without saying that we wore masks the entire time. I fully subscribe to loving my neighbor by doing so, but I’d be lying if I said I liked it. If I can vent for a minute, they’re hot, and it’s much harder to understand people, especially in one’s second language since the lip reading factor goes away!
There was hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray for the bottom of our shoes right inside the door. We used the orders of service that we always use but the hymn booklets had been replaced by a disposable half sheet and the Bibles were stowed away; we had been encouraged to bring our own. Rows of chairs were about twice as far apart as normal, and the offering, normally a free for all as people approach the altar at will to place their pesos in a basket, was done row by row. 

After an abridged service of the Word, those not inclined to commune were extended the grace to bow out…but everyone stayed for a meditation on Holy Communion. One of the points that jumped out at me, nerd that I am, is that the Spanish word for illness/disease/sickness, enfermedad, is from the Latin īnfirmitās, or a lack of firmness! 

My anticipation mounted with each slide. When it was finally time, communion was also done by row. The pastors sanitized their hands and the chalice between each table and remained masked the entire time. Fellow missionary Danelle & I were practically last; when our turn to participate in the Lord’s body and blood came, it was a balm for my soul that I never wanted to end. Lord willing, I’ll never again endure 85 days away from the Altar. 
For me, going to church was one more sign that things are normalizing. I gotta be honest – I’m over the whole sheltering in place thing and thus constantly reminding myself of blessings for which I can be thankful during this season. Someone else in the Psalm 100 Bible study pointed out that verse 4 doubles as a metaphor for prayer: we should approach the throne of God with thanksgiving and praise. In the “ACTS” acronym for prayer, Adoration, Confession, and Thanksgiving all precede Supplication. Leave me a comment below (or on Facebook) with how I can pray for you, your family, or your community, or join you in thanking and praising God for something. 

Until next time, blessings!