“My Soul Yearns, Even Faints, For The Courts of The Lord”

“SINGAPORE: As community cases of COVID-19 remain low in Singapore, authorities will allow more people to go back to the workplace from Sep 28, subject to conditions.” Among employees who are able to work from home, no more than half should return to the workplace at any point in time, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Sep 23). With the CoViD-19 infection rate remaining low in Singapore, our government is easing safety measures on employees returning to the office. At the same time, the government has increased the number of worshippers in religious places from 50 to 100 from Oct 3 onwards “SINGAPORE: Up to 100 attendees will be allowed at all worship services and weddings from Oct 3, up from the current limit of 50.”

From the time when the circuit breaker was imposed, worshippers were not allowed to return to church for worship, in accordance with the safety measures as regulated by the Singapore government. Several brothers and sisters-in-Christ were quite upset, and this stirred up a lot of discussion. They were like the psalmist, who yearned, but could not be in the temple of God. The psalmist cried out to the living God with his soul, heart and flesh, that he might join the worshippers in the temple, in Psalm 84:1-2 –

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

This was echoed in Ezra 3:10-11, where we are reminded of the joyous occasion when the exiled returned to Jerusalem for worship in God’s temple:

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

Prior to the latest government announcements of allowing attendance in places of worship at up to 100 persons, we could only allow on a monthly basis, for the Chinese congregation to return to church from Oct 4 and the English congregation, from Oct 18, for worship. We will extend the frequency to the regular weekly basis of returning to church worship with the latest easing of government regulations, from the month of November. This will continue to be subject to government announcements on safety measures. When we return to church, our safety officers will be there to ensure safe distancing, temperature check and health declaration. This is to ensure the safety of our worshippers during worship. Let us be mindful to observe and cooperate with the safety officers. You can rest assured that we have your safety in mind when you return to church for worship.

Are we like the psalmist and the Israelites, who want to return to God’s sanctuary for worship? Do we rejoice and look forward to the day when the whole church can return to God’s sanctuary? We had to worship online at home due to the CoViD-19 pandemic. With the lowering of the infection rate and the government allowing higher attendance in worship places, we should seize the opportunity to return to God’s house for worship.

Worshipping God in His sanctuary is different from worshipping online at home. In God’s house, we are in a quiet, beautiful sanctuary where we can focus on our worship. More importantly, we can worship together as one people. May we strongly encourage you to return to church for worship. Many of us yearn to return to church for worship as His redeemed. Let us, with one voice and in one accord, lift our hearts of praise and adoration to our Almighty Creator God and our Saviour in worship. May we look forward to the day where we can gather in God’s house for worship and fellowship. We need to take heed of God’s word that we should not neglect the assembly of God’s people as we see the day approaching in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”