lift

 

When I tell people that we have moved to Bath from York, they often say something like ‘well, they’re quite similar places, aren’t they?’ almost as if we have moved here because we only like living in cities that have been occupied by Romans and are loved by tourists and hen parties.

It’s a bit too early to early to make comparisons, but in general we are finding Bath to be a very friendly place. Last week, with some of my chaplaincy colleagues, I took part in an initiative organised by churches working together in Bath, inviting people to pray. Lots of people were happy to reach up and put a ball into one of the structures as a symbol of their prayer. Some people, including children, lingered. Bath felt like a very good place to be.

But one thing that I miss about York are the city walls and the gates.  In the months before we moved away, every time I passed one of the gates in particular (Micklegate Bar, for those who know it) some words from the Bible would leap into to my head:

Lift up your heads, O gates!

and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

 Who is the King of glory?

The Lord, strong and mighty,

the Lord, mighty in battle.

 Lift up your heads, O gates!

and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

 Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts,

he is the King of glory.

Scholars think that these words (from Psalm 24) were used in worship in the ancient world – perhaps as people ascended the hill to Jerusalem, or they may have accompanied the Ark of the Covenant into the temple.

In a modern context these words make me want to lift up my head, lift up my heart, opening the doors for God’s glory. When I stop, even for a moment, to look above the turmoil that is around me or within me, my perspective changes.

We’ve got quite a long and steep journey to school with our youngest at the moment, but we’ve found a secret to keep him moving: get him to lift his head and look up, instead of trudging along looking at his shoes. When he is interested in the world around him and engaged in conversation, he hardly notices the climb.

Like the lovely people of Bath lifting up their brightly coloured prayers and the ancient words inviting us to be on the look out for God, I, too, want to lift up my head, expecting glory.

micklegate-bar-outside

 

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