Joy and the Psalms
The Book of Psalms calls us to praise God and these hymns created millennia ago still resonate with us as we ask for God’s help and intercession, bless and honor God’s name, mourn our losses and rejoice in our understanding of God’s goodness. Many resources are available to understand this longest Book in the Bible – and the second of the Wisdom Books – and during this first week of Advent we will focus on the power of the psalms in a number of ways: they connect us with God as sisters and brothers in Christ, they give us a healing pathway on which to carry our lament to the Spirit, they call us together as we praise and honor the creator God, and they offer us more examples of how God’s joy surprises and even overcomes us when we least expect it.
If this week’s exploration of Psalms calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in acknowledging God’s presence.
Using a concordance we can easily find dozens of references to Joy in the Psalms. Devoting a bit of time each day this week, we may be surprised to find how much joy these simple verses lend to our lives in this time of year so full of activity. The following verses have been modified to give us mantras that we might hold on to as we move through our days and nights. If you are able, carve out a bit of Advent time this afternoon or evening to reflect on one or two of these verses and ponder what their meaning might be for you in your particular circumstances. Click on the scripture links and explore other versions of these verses. Share an idea about the surprise of joy in the dark places and times in your lives with a loved one, a neighbor or friend. And allow the surprise of joy to brighten this first Sunday in the season of hope-filled waiting for the arrival of the Christ.
Psalm 4 verse 7: The joy that you have given us, Lord, is more than we will ever have with all our grain and wine. How might we might share God’s joy with others?
Psalm 5 verse 11: But all who find safety in you, Lord will rejoice; they can always sing for joy. Protect those who love you; because of you they are truly happy. Do we call on God’s joy when we are in dark times and places?
Psalm 9 verse 2: I will sing with joy because of you, Lord. I will sing praise to you, Almighty God. Do we acknowledge God’s role in the joy that unexpectedly comes to us?
Psalm 16 verse 11: You will show me the path that leads to life, Lord; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever. Do we recognize and value God’s presence in our lives? Do we share the joy of this presence with others?
During this first week in Advent we will continue to share simple verses from Psalms that bring joy to our hearts. Let us consider broadening our horizon and find the time today to listen to part or all of a podcast interview with Dr. Robert L. Okin, a clinical pychiatrist who challenges us to find our political will to change the lives of the homeless. Listen and reflect at: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-11-24/dr_robert_l_okin_silent_voices_people_with_mental_disorders_on_the_street We may also want to begin an Advent journey of seeking God’s true presence by dipping into Okin’s book, Silent Voices: People With Mental Disorders on the Street.
Tomorrow, God protects and defends, rescues and saves.
For a brief reflection on God’s presence in our lives, click on the Presence image above or visit the “Practicing God’s Presence” post at: http://scottberglan.org/2013/03/22/practicing-gods-presence/
For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/