Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Songbook of Faith

The Story of Scripture: The Songbook of Faith
Psalm 42, Psalm 126, Matthew 27:32-50

Songs stay with us and become part of our story. How is it that you can go years without hearing a song, and then you hear it once, and you remember every word?

For me, some songs that have that type of power:

--Lee Andrews & the Hearts, bringing me back to returning in the family car from grandma's house, listening to WOGL, the Sunday night doo wop show.

--Grover Washington: Just the Two of Us, remembering the first concert my dad took me to.
And even when I hear the inferior Will Smith version, it points me back to the original.

--Just the Way You Are, if Aurie and I have a song, this would be it.

--I’ll Stand By You: Sophie loved this song when she was two, and would be the only song on the CD she would 'allow' to be played.

There are songs that tell of pain, songs that tell of triumph, there are songs that make the hands clap, the feet stomp, the fists pump, the body dance. And there are also songs that make the body sway, the eyes cry, the back slouch and the hands go over our mouths.

There is song and music for every emotion

Is this also true for the songs of our faith? In the Bible, the Psalms are the songbook of faith.
What is in the songbook of Faith?

Thinking about our first Psalm, Sad Songs (Say So Much), by Elton John, came into my mind. It led me down a 30 minute rabbit trail about other Elton John songs that describe the types of Psalms.

For example,
The Psalms about affliction: Don’t go breaking my heart
The Psalms that are Penitential: sorry seems to be the hardest word
The Psalms that are Imprecatory: Saturday Nights All right (for fighting)

There are other types of Psalms:
Didactic Historical Intercessional
Messianic Praise Prophetic
Thanksgiving Ascent (pilgrimage) Royal
Enthronement wisdom

These songs address the experience of being human. Like a romance, there are two faces that turn to each other to speak. In this songbook of faith, God speaks to us, and we speak to God. God’s words strengthen us. Past human words to God are shared by all on the journey of faith.

Psalm 42: The heartfelt song for God
A modern example of a sad song would be “nobody knows the trouble’s I’ve seen”

Where can I go to meet with God?
--when taunts surround “men say all day where is your God”
--when tears abound “tears are my food”
--when life gets you down “Why are you downcast? Why are you
so disturbed within me?”

What comes from meeting with God?
--Remembering one’s joy “I used to go with the group, leading the
procession into the house of God. There were shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng”

--Affirming one’s goal “Put your hope in God for I will yet still
praise him”

--Observing from the heights “I will remember from the heights of hermon,
Mt. Mizar”

--The call of the deep “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls, all your waves and breakers have swept over me”

--Day and night “The Lord directs his love by day and his
song is with me at night”

Psalm 126
Elton John would entitle this psalm: I’m Still Standing

A Song of Ascents: Approaching the Temple & God in worship.
If Psalm 42 was written in Exile, Psalm 126 is written on the other side.
It is written after the struggle was endured, and completed. We made it. And not only did we make it, we are thriving.

We have dreamed.
We have laughed.
We have sung song of joy.
We have born witness to the nations.
We have been restored.
We have sown and reaped with songs of joy.
We have gone out and returned carrying sheaves of joy.

We are still standing. All praise to God.

The Crucifixion: The Psalms Speak Throughout the Story

If the Exodus is the central event for the Israelites where God breaks into history and rescues a people, the Cross is that history-breaking event for the world. And Jesus, in the midst of his ultimate sacrifice, remembers the songbook of faith.

· I am worn out calling for help, my throat is parched. Ps 69:1
· They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. Ps 69:21
· I can count all my bones Psalm 22:17
· They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing Psalm 22:18
· A band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. Ps 22:16
· All who see me mock me, they hurl insults, sharking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’ Ps 22:7-8
· My God, My God, why have you forsaken me. Ps 22:1

The Songbook told God’s story to the people. Jesus lived the songbook. He lived the faith perfectly. And in doing so, has become the songbook of our faith.

What are we to do with the Songbook of faith?
1. Shape our worship. (the Psalter)
2. Help us identify our spiritual journey.
3. Help us connect with the larger family of God.

Sad songs say so much. The Songbook reminds us: We are still standing. And we stand because of our Lord Jesus Christ. He came to live and be the one whom we believe in. He is our song and our story.

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