Mondays in Lent, Beginning on Zoom, March 6, 7pm Zoom link Meeting ID: 873 0418 9375 Passcode: 092098
Every week when we meet to worship, we hear a Psalm. The familiar words of the Psalms wash over and through us, a foundational part of our liturgies. We hear these psalms every week because their words hold deep theological significance for each of us and for our lives as the community of God.
The Psalms teach us about the life of God, and about the life that God intends for us and for the world, as J. Clinton McCann, Jr., suggests in his Introduction to the Psalms in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol IV. We will be using McCann’s commentary to guide us through our Lenten/Easter study. The themes in the following paragraphs come from McCann’s commentary.
The psalms teach us about happiness, the complete orientation of life to God and perpetual openness to God’s instruction, and the joy we find in God’s forgiveness and God’s faithful love.
We will learn more about taking refuge in God and trusting in God. The psalms describe righteous people as those who acknowledge their fundamental dependence on God for their lives and for the future, the people who live by grace.
“Justice for all!” God desires life and a future for all living things, for peace on earth. So when we choose to live under God’s rule, we work for political and economic systems that provide just access to everyone. If we are living in God’s reign, then we will want to live in partnership with all other species of creatures and in partnership with the earth itself. The Psalms have a lot to say about justice for all.
“The Lord reigns!” This statement lies at the heart of the Psalter, describing not some far off future, but the present reality. Much of our current reality seems to deny this truth. But there it is! The Lord does reign, even in the midst of opposition and suffering.
And we people of God respond to God, even in the midst of suffering, with prayer and praise, as do the writers of the Psalms and all of the people who have sung, read and prayed the psalms down through the centuries.
As the Psalms make clear, the character of God is defined by God’s steadfast love. When Israel’s future hangs in the balance, God (as God does in the Torah as well) reveals God’s self to be merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
God’s justice and God’s steadfast love come together in the person of Jesus, who knew the Psalms intimately. The Psalms shaped Jesus’ life and understanding of the Reign of God. Jesus is the ultimate example of God’s steadfast love for all of creation.
During our Psalm study, we will talk about how and when the psalms were collected, learn about different categories of psalms, how the Babylonian exile influenced the collections of Psalms, and most importantly, how the Psalms speak to us today about God and our relationship to God. We’ll learn something about each of the 150 psalms and their value for us as we grow in faith in God. We’ll learn how to apply the Psalms to our daily lives.