Reset / Refresh – A New Relationship With Our City
I once heard someone refer to the Psalms of the Old Testament as “the Prayer book of Jesus”. What this person was getting at was that most probably Jesus prayed the Psalms – he used their words and themes to express what was on his heart. Indeed, the Psalms with their joy and praise, their anger and lament, their wonder of God and their raw human emotions have been used by Christians for over 2 thousand years as a kind of prayer book, as prayers to God that give expression to how we are feeling.
I have found myself during these challenging times turning to the Psalms and in particular Psalm 23. I don’t know about you, but I think of Psalm 23 as a particularly Scottish Psalm and find it hard to read it without the tune Crimond forming as an ear worm in my head (if you don’t know this tune, here it is on Songs of Praise) or the wording of the Scottish Psalter’s version of Psalm 23 overriding the reading of the text.
Restore my soul!
“My soul He doth restore again” are certainly words I need to hear on a dreich (very wet) Glasgow day, the reality I need to step into and encounter on the eve of moving into Level 4 COVID restrictions.
Thinking of Psalm 23 (and the opening of Psalm 122) I wrote my own Psalm as a prayer and share it here in the hope you may find it helpful:
Let us go to the house of the Lord
Was I glad? Maybes Aye, maybes naw
Aye, because God you are worthy
Aye, because true life is only found in you
Naw, because it reminds me of what I miss
Singing at home, alone
It’s just no the same as praising you, with brothers and sisters around me,
with voices in tune and out of tune
Yet, I will praise you Oh God, the good shepherd
I will praise you in the valley when the walls seem like they are closing in
I will praise you, for your rod and staff comfort me
When I am anxious and afraid… I will praise you
For you spread out a banquet
You provide for me when threats are all around
Pour into my life afresh the oil of your Spirit
Anoint me with gladness so my cup overflows
I thank you Father that I don’t need to go looking for your goodness and love
For you promise they will follow me all the days of my life
I praise you God that I dwell in your house because Christ dwells in me
Raise the level Oh God
Raise the level of my awareness of your presence today, and each new day
That you may be glorified
Writing a Psalm to God can be a great way to meditate on God and upon His word, it can be a great way to offer up to God our love for him and also the full range of our feelings. If you’ve not done this before then you might find it helpful, especially in those moments when, perhaps like myself, you find the going tough.
The good news is that we can still gather. We can gather on-line on Sunday as we have been, and there are details in the Up-date of what Level 4 restrictions mean for gathering on Sunday at Camphill.
This week we are bringing to an end the short series we’ve been doing called reset : refresh. What does it mean to reset and refresh our relationship with the city in which we live, work, play, worship? I believe that God’s plan for us is to continue to call this city to life; so, we want to start to think about what that means during these days and going forward.
Enlarge our hearts
I think, in particular, that this is a time when God is calling us to enlarge our hearts. We are going to think about Luke 19, verses 41 to 42, where Luke records that as Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. If we are to call this city to life in Christ, then we need to lean into what it means to love this city, the people of this city, as God loves them.
So, here are a couple of questions for you to think about as we prepare for Sunday.
(1) What can we do that our heart will be enlarged by God for this city?
(2) What does it mean to love the city as God loves the city …what does this look like?
You can treasure your answer in your heart, but if you feel it would help us grow in our obedience to the calling God has on us as a church, then please share your answers either by email or in the comments section on Sunday.
God is the good shepherd. I pray that in these days you know his closeness and provision that like the Psalmist you can give testimony and cry out, “The Lord is my shepherd ..my soul he doth restore”.
Grace and peace,