Preacher: “O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”
Where do I find that song in the hymnal?
Preacher: “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
Seeker: Oh, I am not ready to come into the Lord God’s presence. I need to freshen up!
Preacher: “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
Seeker: I am guessing that means I am the Lord God’s too. Generations ago, long generations that are part of the most distant past, I was born as a part of creation. The Genesis story may not be accurate biologically, but I at least know this – it explains why humanity was created. To give completeness to the plan of the Divine Creator. But I am not ready. Moreover I am not even sure I am worthy to be kindly regarded by the Almighty.
Preacher: “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!”
Seeker: I have sinned. My life is tainted with misdeeds and good intentions that I never followed through on. I do not think worship from me would be pleasing to the Divine.
Preacher: “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!”
The Divine speaks to me? I hear faint echoes, and quite honestly I am afraid. The rumbling on the mountains may mean disaster is coming. I am not brave enough.
Preacher: “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.” Therefore in my anger I swore, “They shall not enter my rest.” (Psalm 95)

Seeker: See! There it is! How can I come before the Divine if the Divine will not receive me!
Preacher: Seeker, that is a question that the Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews wrestled with for many generations. They put rituals in place and conducted ceremonies of guilt and atonement in hopes that their sins would be overlooked. But the fact that they needed to repeat these rituals over and over proves it was not the correct approach. Yes, the psalmist exhorts his listeners and readers to worship the Lord, but I believe it was an exhortation and worship that was tinged with real fear. Not awe of the Lord, but fear as you have expressed. And some factious statements that were meant to diminish the force of the request. That is why in the fullness of time the Divine created a way for us to come before the Lord God and not have to fear rejection. The psalmist speaks out of his knowledge that the Divine desires communion with humanity but at the time of this writing the way to come before the Divine was unclear. But now we know. And yes, we do have a ritual that we partake of each year; not out of fear but out of anticipation. Lent, beloved seeker. The ritual of Lent is one way of coming to worship the Lord God.
Seeker: Well then! “O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”