TALK DELIEVERED AT THE OUR LADY OF LOURDES GROTTO (EGYAM) ON ITS 70TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION ON THE THEME:I REJOICED WHEN THEY SAID TO ME “LET US GO TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD” (PSALM 122:1).
My dear friends, permit me to begin this talk by drawing our attention to the Tigo ‘yεn so nkoaa’ advertisement on television and I want you to pay special attention to the small boy who was running and shouting ‘time aso ooooo, time asoo’,reminding the people that the time had come for the lights to go out. And when the lights finally go out, all the people respond with sadness, saying ‘oooooooo’.But for us this evening, this ‘time aso oooo’ phrase fills us with joy because of:
*** Where we have been invited to (Grotto)
***what we are being invited to do (encounter the Lord).
***what we stand to benefit by coming.
Consequently, I will humbly like to invite you all to join me in singing this song
‘I WAS GLAD WHEN THEY SAID UNTO ME’
I was glad when they said unto meI was glad when they said unto meI was glad when they said unto meLet us go to the house of the lord
In the house of the Lord
***I came running when they said unto me
***soul got happy when they said unto me
MEANING OF THE SONG
The reason for this gladness comes from the invitation to go and worship and the fact of physically being present. Today, our gladness is that the Bishop informed and invited us for our annual diocesan pilgrimage to Egyam and we have come.And this year this joy is special because this Grotto is 70 years. Thus, our gladness is due to what was said to us and the fact that we have been able to respond to this invitation. This gladness stem from the heart of someone who loves the Lord and His Sanctuary. This joy can becompared to the joy of children on the playing field when they are reminded it’s time to go home. They will run because they know what ‘the house’ means to them.Therefore, as God’s children the invitation to come to the Grotto should likewise fill us with joy because of what the Grotto means to us: a place where God dwells.
There are Psalms that were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they made their yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the three (3) mandatory feasts given in the Law, namely; the feasts of Tabernacles, Pentecost and Unleavened bread.Psalm 122 from which our theme is taken belongs to the group of Psalms that are referred to as Song of Ascent (mfowee ndwom). They were to besung as the worshippers made their way to the Holy place to worship. The aim was to glorify the Lord and help prepare the hearts of the pilgrimsfor their encounter with the Lord.Again this Psalm tells us how the people of Israel joyfully looked forward to these celebrations. Hence, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem became a priority in their lives, because of what it meant to them. Therefore like the people of Israel, the diocese invites us every year to make a pilgrimage to one of our Grottos to encounter to the Lord in a very special way.It is an obligation to make this pilgrimage a priority in our lives (1Cor.11:23-26, Hebrews 10:24-25). Our theme then brings to the fore the joy of the pilgrims whenever the time came for them to make this all important journey.Why were the pilgrims so excited about going to this place of encounter or in our case, why shouldcoming to the Grotto make us excited? The excitement according to our theme comes from three reasons, namely; the place of worship, the purpose of worship and the person glorified there.
PURPOSE FOR GOING THERE
a). TO HEAR GOD’S PRECEPTS:
The Jews made the pilgrimage to the place of worship because doing so honoured the Word of God. Therefore, when we gather like this the Bible should be at the heart of everything we do. Every event should and must be centred on the Word of God. It is therefore an opportunity to listen to His Word and to share the Gospel (good news).
b). TO HERALD GOD’S PRAISES:
The pilgrims understood that going there means to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. This journey came with personal cost and difficulty but they made it because He was worthy to be praised for His grace so no cost was too much. Fortunately for us we did not walk hundred miles in our sandals to get here like the Jewish pilgrims; our cost is not like the Jewish pilgrims.The ancient Jews remembered what God had done for them and their forefathers and they knew they had ample reasons to praise the Lord and they did.
THE PEOPLE WHO GATHER THERE
While the pilgrims found gladness in their purpose for going to the house of God, they also found it in the people who they met there. Hence, the type of people we meet at this Grotto should make us glad.
a)A PEOPLE UNITED IN FELLOWSHIP:
“They said…let us go”. The Jewish pilgrimage saw their time at the house of the Lord as a time when they could come together on common ground for a common purpose. Petty disputes and family disagreements were put aside so theycould worship the Lord together.We too have come from different backgrounds toworship but if we are to fulfil the injunction in Hebrews 10:25, then there characteristics must be true in us;
*we must practise love=1Cor.13:1-8,Mtt. 22:37-39
*demonstrate forgiveness=Eph.4:32, Luke 17:3-5,Mtt 18:21-22
*live in tolerance=Rms.15:1-2,Phil.2:4*
we must offer restoration=Gal.6:1-2
In effect, should we fail to do these things out of love and with Christ like unity we will never derive the rightful worship experience.
b)A PEOPLE UNITED BY FAMILY
The ancient Jews were a people connected by blood. They were a family. Therefore, when they came together for worship it was a family reunion every time they gathered. The Grotto offers us this opportunity to fellowship as a family, for we too are connected by the blood of Christ and baptism.THE PERSON THEY GLORIFY THEREGod was the centre piece of everything they did at the house of God. He was at the heart of all they did. If not for God, who would have bothered coming to the Grotto. Therefore, if you came here just to do your own thing then your reason is wrong. But if you came here because you love God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, as well as the Blessed Virgin Marythen your worship will be real and meaningful. Those who came with wrong reasons will go home empty handed.Consequently, our theme for the 70th anniversary celebration of this Grotto is offeringus the chance to examine our motive for coming and also how we feel about worshipping the Lord here. If this has touched your heart then I encourage you to share your experience when yougo back, to ensure that next year our number willdouble.For we are to exhort and remind one another that it is our duty to go and attend upon the worship of the lord, hence it is a cause of great joy when the time come and we are invited to go to the Grotto and pray.
THANK YOUR AND MAY GOD RICHLY BLESS US ALL
.REV. FR. EMMANUEL DOLPHYNE
ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, APOWA (12/09/2015)