January 25, 2022
In our ABF (Acts 2:42) we have been studying the Psalms. Frankly, that can be intimidating. It’s a tremendous amount of material addressing many different contexts and situations, from laments to shouts of praise and joy. Each week our ABF typically begins by reading the Psalm aloud as a group. This practice has led me to consider how I process the Psalms as a believer.
Often when I read the Psalms, I hold it as a close, quiet intimate experience between myself and the Lord. I process my struggles and victories through the words of the Psalmist (often David). Many times, I find the admissions of sin and the personal pleadings of the Psalmist to be raw and transparent, stripping away the trappings of pride and pretense. Equally as moving at times are the unrestrained expressions of joy, praise, and worship.
However, these Psalms were sung by larger groups and their content made public, not kept secret. Many of them comprised the hymnal for Israel and would have been used in worship by the Israelites. Perhaps they were even sung by a 12-year-old boy in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago. What would it have been like for Jesus to hear with his human ears these Psalms being sung aloud? To hear, as He stood in the temple, words of worship being sung to His Father, words provided to the Psalmist by the inspiration of His very own Holy Spirit?
I imagine it brought joy to my Creator’s heart. I imagine He smiled as He heard confessions of adultery and unfaithfulness. For in that brokenness, He also heard cries for mercy, promises of repentance, and a plea for the creation of a clean heart. He knew that all of this was about to come under redemption in the work He was about to complete.
Maybe I can learn from this. Maybe I can read the Psalms not alone, but with my wife, my family, my small group, my ABF, and my church family. Together we – not I – can own the brokenness or joy in each Psalm, processing them as the people of God rather than in solitude. Maybe in this I find another way of worship that makes the heart of my Lord glad.
Craig Nelson serves as a facilitator for the Acts 2:42 ABF. He is married to Bridget Nelson. Bridget is a cellist and Craig a pianist and they enjoy playing music together. They have two teenage children, Danny and Olivia. Craig is the Director of Information Technologies for McLean County Government, now in his 25th year with the County and is also a certified Project Management Professional. Craig also volunteers as a teacher in the student program for the Men’s evening Bible Study Fellowship program which meets at East White Oak on Monday nights.
February OakLeaf Articles:
Preparing for Sunday Worship by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Sunday Worship as Outreach by Pastor Justin Waples
Worship, It’s Good for the Soul by Pastor Jeff VanGoethem
Music in Worship by Paul Jones
Worship from the Psalms by Craig Nelson
Parenting In the Worship Service by Jon and Pam Scott
What I Miss About Physically Gathering for Worship by Janet Schlagel