“I Was Glad When they Said Unto Me Let us go into the House of the Lord
I have had the opportunity to travel to Israel twice. One of the things I was told by a Jewish historian who accompanied one of the groups I traveled with was that the Psalms that are listed as “Song of Ascents” were often sung in unison by pilgrims from the villages like Nazareth and Bethlehem as they climbed the enormous steps to the temple in Jerusalem. He told us that several people form the villages would climb the steps, one step at a time and recite or sing a Psalm, hence the “Songs of Ascents” because they were ascending the steps to the high and lifted portion of the temple. As the historian spoke it caused me to think about the value of going to church.
I have always liked going to church. As a child in New Orleans, there were songs and responses the choir sang during worship that made chills run up and down my spine like the “Three fold Amen” after the benediction. I think about Lillian Perry on the Organ and young Terrence Blanchard learning to play the trumpet sitting by his dad in the choir and Sherry Merritt on the other side of the chancel playing the flute and young Debra on the clarinet. In Detroit, I think about Rochelle Mittchell, Joyce and her sister singing, “May the Road Rise to Meet You”. I think about Ernestine Chaires, Marian Carter, Mavis Dorsey and Mrs. Coble singing, “Yes, God is Real”. I think about Mrs. Chaires singing “Climb every Mountain.” I can still hear Tom Pruitt singing “Jerusalem.”. I think about the sound of my father’s voice praying. I think about Wesley Raney preaching, “If Loving you is Wrong, I don’t want to do right.” I think about Andrew Young preaching, “Nick, If God could speak through Balaam’s Ass, surely he can speak through you.” I think about Randy Evans concluding his little sermons to our youth ministry with, “Courage, Jesus is Lord.”
I think about listening to Lamar Willis and Sheila Oden playing “thank you Lord for giving me another chance” and praying behind and over the soulful sounds of Chenethia Wooten, Diane Reeder and all of our various choirs singing and humming songs of praise. There is nothing quite like it. I have often invited younger and newer ministers as well as lay persons to join me in prayer as I teach them to feel the rhythm and verve of praying on top of incredibly spiritual music: the lights are lowered, the LED lights turn deep purple , blue and sometimes red and it is like walking into the furnace room, feeling and listening to the sound of the big gas boiler kicking on and you know there is a power in the sanctuary unlike anyplace else.
So, if you are in Detroit, Michigan this New Year’s Eve, I invite you to join me for worship at 10 PM tonight. I will be preaching from Isaiah 43 about the plans God has for your future. I hope to see you this evening at Plymouth United Church of Christ 600 E. Warren Ave. Detroit, Michigan 48201
Song of Praise and Prayer for Jerusalem
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 
Questions for Reflection:
- What is the value of worshiping with other people?
- Has there ever been a time in your life when someone invited you to go to church with them? How did it make you feel?
Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to worship with you. I love to read scripture in unison with other people. I love to sing the songs of faith and I love to pray together. Bless me now with an open and willing spirit and draw me closer to the House of the Lord. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
More about the work of Nicholas Hood III Ministries at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Ps 122). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.