26/10/09 Psalms - Do you Understand Them
I wasn’t a fan of the psalms for a long time, two reasons kept me in theological ignorance. I was always turned off by the responsive reading of psalms in church and secondly I really didn’t understand them. I am not alone in giving the psalms a wide berth. People view them as too old, they don’t like the invitations for God to lose his rag with people and they are perplexed how people can shout at God in anger.
I heard Jonathan Aitken speak about his life and love for psalms at Easter People. His interest fired mine and some study on the matter has made all the difference. There had been some study before Mr Aitkin spoke but it hadn’t connected with the experience of real people. There had never been the thought of relevance for today. But when you connect the emotions of life to peoples understanding of faith you begin to make progress . The Psalms are made up of songs, prayers and poetry. The writers talk about joy, rage and despair. These people are in good and bad times and they are honest. When you begin to read something like this you understand that the English stiff upper lip is not always our best asset’.
Many of us struggle with scripture in silence, there may be parts of the Sunday Service that we find hard to understand but we never say anything. It would be hard for many to admit that communion, baptism or even membership hold secrets that we have not understood. Of course we wouldn’t say anything for worry of being thought a fool. So we trundle on not able to have the full picture.
Fellowship groups in church are a vital part of building up trust to ask questions, to learn and to be amazed that other great Christians have the same problems and thoughts as we do. I can remember the revelation in one group form a Girls Brigade Officer; she never closed her eyes for prayer (it was a long time ago) but people were shocked – I was relieved to hear someone else thought the same.
Sidmouth does have bible study groups but most are full to overflowing, which is great. The five year plan set a target to develop more bible study groups which would cover the same subject so people could share together and also hear a sermon linked in with the material. Being able to achieve this goal depends on people being willing to attend and also being willing to host such groups. Getting to know one another better is important in any fellowship. It encourages us to grow and trust one another, it also provides a challenge so we do not stand still or miss out in hearing Gods love.
This project will be developing in the New Year and I hope that a number of you will take the opportunity to enjoy fellowship and study in a relaxed meeting. If you are willing to host and lead such groups then an article elsewhere will provide the opportunity to discuss this with me.