My goal at this time is to nurture myself, spiritually and also theologically. As the Prime Minister keeps saying, “We live in extraordinary times.” I believe that in extraordinary times we need to have an extraordinary connection with God. It is that connection that keeps us rooted and grounded and gives us a faith perspective on what is happening in our world.
One of the things that I did today was to check into Calvin College’s website and listen to an audio file about using the Psalms to bring our emotional experiences into worship. It really is as we truly bring our emotions into the sanctuary that we have that full experience of being in the care of an all powerful God.
The first presenter, a Presbyterian, commented that in his (and mine) denomination we are used to checking our emotions at the door and bringing only our heads into worship. I think he used the words “a brain on a stick”.
This lecture pointed out that the Psalms, especially the Psalms of Lament, are the ways in which congregations can connect their heart, their emotions and their fears with God who is Almighty. He also pointed out that how we pray with and shepherd our congregations is how we help our people through trauma.
How do we do that?
- We need to come to the Lord with tears.
- We need to use the Psalms to cry out to God, using God’s words.
- Then we allow God’s word to be a trumpet that announces triumph over our circumstances.
All of this resonated with what I have been pondering in the last few days, about crafting a worship experience for Good Friday that reminds us that God really does care about our grief and pain. (It remains a work in progress, but one of my goals for that service is to remind us that God has already gone there before us.)
The big takeaway from that lecture for me is that this is why lament is so important. It gives us the language to speak God’s word to trauma and to bring our emotions into the worship experience.
Then I went to the book by Max Lucado, Anxious for nothing; finding calm in a chaotic world, and everything I read was like an underpinning to the insights from the lecture.
Lucado reminds us that anxiety is often the consequence of perceived chaos.
What are our perceptions of chaos at this time?
This is something none of us has known in our life-time.
When I was talking with my mother this morning she said that this experience is something my grandchildren would remember forever. She told me that her mother–my Oma–often told stories of life during the Spanish Flu pandemic. She had only been a child but it was a big part of her recollections.
As I thought about this later, I realized that looking back and telling stories is a good thing. As we tell the stories, we can see the signs of God being at work that we may have missed in the moment. It is a reminder that no matter how hard we tried to control the situation; that God already had it well in hand.
Lucado points out that Anxiety creates a need for us to be in control. But we can’t control everything and truly we can’t control anything.
Scripture and especially the Psalms and other Laments remind us that God is in control, and that when we give God our anxiety we are also giving him the glory.
This is a good time to remember that God is always on his throne. Always in control. Always powerful.
As our understanding of how powerful our God is grows, then we lessen our anxiety.
As our understanding of how powerful our God is grows, then we lessen our anxiety. That bears repeating.
Like Paul in Philippians 4: 4 writes Rejoice in God always.
Lucado stresses the importance of this passage this way: Intentionally, habitually rejoice! Intentionally, habitually rejoice, always. And again. Intentionally, habitually rejoice, always.
This is not an empty joy of which he speaks, but of a joy that is rooted in God, that exults because God has this. God is in control. God cares about what happens to us.
That is why worship is so important. And why finding new ways to worship right now is crucial. In worship we encounter God and we are given a momentto give all our emotions to God.
Lucado writes: I dare–I double dog dare you–to expose your worries to an hour of worship. Your concerns will melt like ice on a July sidewalk.
That’s why I counsel people who are grieving to bring their tears to worship. It is so common for them to avoid worship because they don’t want people to see them cry, yet, coming and crying before God is vital for our emotional well being. That is why so many Psalms are Laments.
I have told this story to my congregation, but my family don’t know this–they will now. There were many Sundays when I was assaulted on my way out the door. Shaking and in tears I drove to the church, where I sat in a bundle of pain. Yet without fail by the end of the worship service, the work of the Holy Spirit brought calm and peace to my being.
That is why is is so important to always be bringing our emotions to God who is Sovereign, to God who cares about our pain, to God who has gone there ahead of us.
Take time to immerse yourselves in the Psalms, they are a reminder that Power belongs to God!
Today instead of a prayer I leave you with this Psalm set to music by Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir: Power belongs to God, a unique setting of Psalm 91. A word of warning: you may want to turn your volume down, just a touch.
I seem to have trouble making the link stay, so if it doesn’t come up for you, I direct you to go to youtube. youtube.com/watch?v=Qpr5AY26DNQ