Do you remember when…..well there are many things that I am sure you could say to conclude this question!
Do you remember when you used to have to get up and go over to the TV to change the channel…. do you remember twin tub washing machines…do you remember when Crystal Palace last got to the FA Cup Final?
Well do you remember singing and saying the Psalms in church or in your daily prayer routine? For some this will definitely be part of their memories, learning Psalm 23 as part of scripture exams I know is still vivid for some.
However, the use of the Psalms on a Sunday service has largely disappeared from our recent experience and so it was good to be reminded of their value through our Lent course running up to Easter. We were taken on a journey through a variety of the Psalms but what really grabbed me was their relevance still today. Although they do not necessarily lend themselves to study or analysis, what I discovered more of is their ability to give expression to my on-going relationship with God and with the situations that I find myself in.
There are times when my soul searches for words to express what is going on deep inside, the Psalms put words to these feelings but also let me know that I am not alone in feeling this way. The Psalms are written by those who express their joys and sorrows, their despair and their experience of God’s faithfulness over time.
Here are some of my reflections on those Psalms that we talked through together, and I hope that you too will find time to read and reflect on them, to store them up for when there seem no words that can express how we are feeling. They also give a permission to speak to God with real honesty about how we are thinking, sometimes we might be too ashamed to admit that we are full of doubt or anxiety, but the Psalms can give us a freedom and release to speak the truth. Here are the Psalms that we read together over the five weeks of Lent: 100, 13, 130, 127, 23.
These Psalms speak of a waiting and wondering what God is doing and a call to persevere in his hope and in his unfailing love. We are encouraged to acknowledge our place before God and to recognise our dependence on him. We were reminded of our need to bring him into our daily routines, we were encouraged to give him praise and glory whilst also acknowledging his faithfulness and how we can draw on our experience of this from the past. We were urged to consider how there is a need always to partner with God in the work that we do, that working in our own strength will always be in vain if we do not involve him…for it is in his work and will that we find true contentment and sleep.
The Psalms are a rich source of wisdom and experience and so I encourage you to read them, start with the ones that are listed above and then continue with others. There are some that will not speak to you straight away, but as you read them, make a note of your favourites that you might go back to when circumstances are different. Use them and be reminded that they also speak of how we might bring God into our everyday life, sharing with him both the joys and sorrows. In this we might find a great freedom and peace in handing over to God our deepest thoughts and feelings.
But above all….know this:
Psalm 100 v3-5
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.