worship

“Psalms, Part 1: A Righteous Racket" - Psalm 150

The first of a four part series on the Psalms. According to Walter Brueggemann, the Psalms come to us in three primary, genres (Psalms of Orientation, Disorientation, and Reorientation) which lay bare the emotional arc of the human heart and remind us that our emotions are, to quote Mr. Rogers, “mentionable and manageable.” Psalm 150 is a Psalm of Orientation, singing praises and giving thanks for God’s goodness and trustworthiness to fulfill promises. We are called to praise because we are created to praise. We express love, honor, joy, and devotion when we talk about the people and things we love. We become what we praise, and when we praise God we reprioritize our lives and point ourselves towards the life and love of the Crucified, Risen Jesus.

Keywords: Easter, Resurrection, Jesus, Christ, praise, joy, gratitude, emotions, music

“A Worthy Investment” - John 12:1-8

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Mary pours a ridiculously expensive perfume on Jesus as an act of love, devotion, and preparation for his imminent death. Judas, who John does not give any grace, grumbles about how she should have sold it and given the proceeds away to the poor (with the possibility that Judas wanted to take a cut). Jesus speaks the cringe-worthy words which have justified so many careless, callous Christians to ignore the God-given social contract of care for the poor. Jesus, who reads the Isaiah scroll declaring himself to be a champion for the marginalized, honors Mary’s gift and shames Judas, because there will always be more work to do, more care to give, more needs to meet, and more justice to seek. Life is not just about doing or accomplishing or fixing, but also about resting in the lavish love and peace of God. Sabbath means we work six days and then we rest, and Judas tried to embarrass Mary by taking the seventh day to celebrate that Jesus was still with them, even if only for a little while longer. The broader way of Lent is not just about suffering and self-denials but also taking the opportunity to soak in Christ’s love and presence in extravagant ways.

Art by Julia Stankova of Bulgaria