You can feel the winds of change in the air. The physical winds bringing colder air from the arctic north that freezes out the plants, birds, and bugs. Other winds of change blow through our community with decisions made at congregational meeting, the turn toward the new church and calendar years, and an increase in the pace of life as we approach a busy season. In times like these, we may search for comfort and you would be hard pressed to find a better teacher than the appointed psalms for the month.
At our All Saints’ celebration on November 3rd, we shared our praise with the words of Psalm 149: “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.” And again, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.” The psalmist reminds us that though dramatic changes may occur in our lives, particularly with the loss of loved ones, there is one thing who is constant in our life and worthy of praise at all times: God.
On November 10th, before our congregational meeting, we’ll share these words from Psalm 17:1-9: “Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.” We are reminded in worship that in times of change, we may call upon the Lord to watch over us. We certainly aren’t the only ones who have ever experienced change in our culture or in our private lives. This psalm connects us to a people not all that different from us and we join with their pleas to God to “Wondrously show [God’s] steadfast love.”
The following week, God is extolled as a paragon of “steadfast love and faithfulness” in Psalm 98. This psalm begins with a brief recounting of God’s work in the world and what follows is an amazing description of how all of creation praises God. Despite the ongoing changes to our world, all the earth breaks forth in joyous song with lyre, melodies, trumpets, and horns. It isn’t only the animals who rejoice; the sea roars, the floods clap their hands, and the hills sing at the presence of the Lord. Change may surround us, but God is in the midst of it.
Finally, on November 24th (Christ the King), we proclaim God is our refuge our strength using Psalm 46. And though the mountains may crumble or the waters rage and foam, we will not fear. We know not to fear because there is a city of God which shall never be moved and we know from our All Saints’ celebrations at the beginning of the month. Nothing separates us from God’s love, and we know that at the end of all things, at the final change in our lives, we will be united with the God of steadfast love and faithfulness.
The Psalms are a rich resource of imagery and many of them are written from a truly personal perspective. It’s easy to see how these writings have become a beloved resource for hymnwriters, preachers, and Christians across the whole globe. For another look at how we incorporate the psalms in worship, come to the Crosspoints Adult Sunday School class on December 1st for an exploration of the Psalms in Christian Worship.