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13: Psalms, Songs, & the Fabric of Life

February 28, 2011

One of the pernicious ironies of the modern world is that one of its most widely heralded inventions is one of its most dangerous: namely, the invention of “religion.” I do not mean by this, of course, that modernity invented the notion of God or any other theological construct. Instead, I mean that modernity, as numerous commentators are helping us see these days, propagated something called “religion” which is supposed to be a private, individualized affair, a compartmentalized thing removed from real life in the real world.

But if the Book of Psalms teaches us anything, one lesson would have to be that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will not be compartmentalized: this is the Creator God, who has wrought all things, beautiful and mysterious and awe-inspiring; the Redeemer God, who acts with great power in the midst of history to do justice and mercy; the Sustaining God, who like a shepherd leads us both by still waters and through the valley of the shadow of death.

Moreover, Psalms teaches us that faith in this God is neither for the faint of heart nor the overly pious. Faith in this God will seek every possible word and color and image to express the magnificence of all God has wrought; will refuse to hold back words of lament or complaint when God seems distant, or too slow to deal with the injustice at hand; and will curse wickedness with curses that would make the reverent Sunday school teacher blush.

So the Psalms depict a God that is involved not just in a small compartment of life some call “religion,” but a God who weaves and is woven into the very fabric of life. We’ll be looking for tokens such as these tonight, and we welcome you.