Corner of Crown & Albion Streets, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia
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The stained glass windows of CPC's auditorium.

Pastoral Letter 11th September 2022

Pastor Steaven Cheung

Songs of Ascent

I’ve got a reflection on the book of Psalms I’d like to share with you this week and I hope it will be encouraging for you as you read it. The book of Psalms is quite a peculiar book as rather than having one chronological message, it’s structured more thematically like a music album with each psalm linking into the next to build a complex message of hope, despair and redemption.

The whole of Psalms is structured into five distinct books, each chronicling a section of Israel’s history and God’s work within that time. In Book 5 there is a section of Psalms titled, ‘the songs of ascent’ (Psalm 120-134), a group of psalms meaning to bring the reader on a meditative journey ascending towards the mountain of God. Each psalm is a step closer to the presence of God. Interestingly, there is only one praise psalm in this section of scripture, as it is filled with psalms of lament and reorientation. It’s odd, but perhaps not surprising, that the message of these songs of ascent is that ascending to meet God’s presence is often challenging, humbling and even frustrating.

I don’t know if you resonate with that idea, that growing closer to God, approaching God, doesn’t always feel like a joyful experience. In fact, it’s often in the challenge of deconstruction and reconstruction of our lives, in sanctification, that we are lifted closer to His truth and grace. With each fight against our sin, we can become wounded, scarred even. But that pain is not the final destination of our ascent towards heaven.

At the end of the songs of ascent is a line of praise psalms that marvel at the glory of God. The psalmist raises their voice in praise of God. Every trouble has been worth it, every strain, every step of fatigue and effort worth a hundred times over. If you are in the middle of an ascent, let the psalms remind you, that our troubles are not forever. One day as we reach the presence of God’s Mountain, our present troubles, hurt and pain will be replaced with more goodness that we could ever gain for ourselves. That gives me hope.



整卷詩篇分為五部,每部都記載了一部分以色列歷史和上帝在其間的工作。 在第五部份中,有一組詩篇標題為「上行之詩」(詩篇120-134篇),這一組詩篇旨在帶領讀者踏上通往聖殿階梯、親近神的屬靈之旅, 每讀一首詩都離神更近一步。 有趣的是,在這部份的詩篇中只有一首讚美神的詩,其他的都充滿了生命的哀嘆和重整。很奇怪,但也許並不意外的,是這些上行之詩所傳達的信息是:親近神的殿往往充滿挑戰性、會遭受欺壓甚至令人沮喪的經歷。

親近神,接近上帝並不總是個令人愉快的經歷 ── 不知道你是否對這個想法有同感?事實上,神往往透過拆毁和重建的試煉去潔淨我們的生命,令我們更接近祂的真理和恩典。在每場與罪的對抗中,我們都會受傷,甚至傷痕累累, 但這種痛苦並不是我們努力朝天家奔跑的最終目的地。

上行之詩的結尾是一連串讚美的詩篇,高舉神的榮耀。詩人高聲讚美神: 每一次困難都是值得的;每一次受傷、每一次疲乏和付出都是值得百倍的。 如果你正在屬靈爭戰當中,讓詩篇提醒你,我們的困境只是暫時的, 有一天,當我們去到神的面前時,我們當前的煩惱、傷害和痛苦將被人所不能賺取的美好所取代──這給了我盼望。

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