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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Worship with the Psalms

In the most recent issue of Christianity Today magazine, N.T. Wright is interviewed about his latest book, The Case for the Psalms.  “How can the Psalms transform us?”  Interviewer Andrew Beyers poses this question.
I was taken by Wright’s response.  “Within the Jewish and Christian traditions, you get your worldview sorted out by worship.”[i] You get your worldview sorted out by worship.  Wow!  Does that happen at HillSong Church?  Wright goes on to say, “What is true today was true in the first century: There was a clash of worldviews.  The early Christians discovered themselves drawn into the Psalter’s ancient Jewish way of seeing God as both totally other than the world and radically present – dangerously present – within it.  And of course, this description of God is the description of Jesus.”
I know when I think about worldview, in my mind I immediately go to missions and the Gospel of Luke, or eternity and the book of Revelation.  I don’t initially consider worship and the Psalms.  But, Revelation includes poetry, music, and worship.  And Jesus refers back to the Psalms throughout the Gospels.  Paul does the same in his letters.  Seeing this and considering it, I feel I need to rediscover the Psalms.
I also need to reinvest in worship.  I don’t mean I have been sleepwalking through it.  I love our times of worship at HillSong Church.  I think our music and prayer and preaching is rooted in the scriptures (especially Isaiah along with the Psalms).  I mean, by my own personal reinvestment, that I need to enter at a deeper level.  When the worship leaders and musicians huddle before each worship service, I always ask God to “touch us where we are and bring us where he wants us.”  I need to seek that touch more.
Seeking is a key component of a Kingdom-of-God worldview.  We who follow Jesus should constantly seek Him.  In our spirits, when we worship, that is a prime arena for intensely seeking God from the deepest parts of ourselves.  And the Psalms give us language.  A way of preparing for worship is to, throughout the week, practice personal, individual worship by reading and praying (and maybe singing) the Psalms. 
I think Wright’s intent is for the church to move the Psalms into the center of our worship.  I haven’t read The Case for the Psalms, so I cannot recommend it.  But I trust N.T. Wright as a scholar and as a disciple who is seeking after God.  To his call for the church to return to the Psalms, I had an invitation.  Make the Psalms a regular part of your life.  Your understanding God will deepen and your Spirit will grow in love and joy and depth.

[i] Andrew Beyers interviewing N.T. Wright, Christianity Today, September, 2013, p.79.

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