Lent is right around the corner. Ash Wednesday happens to fall on Valentine’s Day this year. During Lent, I want to focus worship on the psalms appointed for the Sunday of each week. The psalms are actual prayers of hymns sung as part of worship. They often reflect what the person or congregation was feeling at the time. Much like songs of today, they can help us look at the human condition and God’s response. They help us articulate our prayers and verbalize our feelings. Lent is a time for personal and corporate self-reflection and the psalms help us put in to words things we may discover about ourselves.
There are psalms appointed for each day of Lent. They can be found on the Vanderbilt Library website at https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/daily.php?year=B if you would like to use them for your daily readings. As we read and share the Psalms, Rev. Carr will be leading a class on Thursday mornings on spiritual disciplines for those who would like to delve further in to developing their spiritual life using historic disciplines. The Education Committee is providing coloring sheets focused on the Sunday Psalm to help children of all ages spend time with each psalm. The focus verse can be used as a breath prayer each evening with parents and children spending a few minutes coloring and saying the verse together. There will be large coloring patterns available during fellowship time Sunday and the Fellowship meal each Wednesday. In this way we acknowledge that the psalms belong both at the center of the life and worship of Christian congregations and in the midst of personal pilgrimages.
Individually and corporately, the Psalms give us an ability to express the character of our relationship to God, especially aspects of devotion to God such as trust, hope, assurance, as well as weariness, anxiety and despair. Because of this the psalms have never ceased to have a place in the Jewish and Christian worship experience. There is a continuity between the ancient texts and the present time. The bridge between the past and the present is one of congregational and personal devotion. The psalms are timeless poetry, rhythmic and expressive. They often express a thought in several different ways allowing each person or congregation a place to experience the depth of the psalm and creates a space for the psalms to speak to us differently in different situations.
There are many ways to incorporate the psalms into your spiritual life. You can read and reflect on one psalm each day as a part of your daily devotion. You may decide to read a different psalm each day using the link above as your guide. You may decide to use a different portion of the Sunday psalm each day of the week until you have worked through the entire psalm spending more time with each line. Many monastic communities practice a combination of these methods and have a specific psalm they recite at the beginning or end of their devotion time and will add one or two different psalms each day. Over the week they have spent time with several different psalms but had one or two that were consistent. There are applications for your phone or computer that can help you.
However you decide to embrace the Psalms this season, I know you will be blessed and your spiritual life deepened as a result of your commitment. There are many books available to use as resources but the psalms themselves have stood the test of time and proven to be a relevant, vital and meaningful resource for millennia.
Have a Holy Lent and I will see you Sunday,