What a beautiful week it has been! What a beautiful world we live in! And what a beautiful time we will have in worship this Sunday at The Park! I look forward to the time we will spend rejoicing together.
One of my favorite things about The Park is the worship music. Each Sunday, the music of Charles and the talented musicians of The Park moves me, and I often find myself playing the music videos posted to our Facebook page during the week when I feel the need to spend time with God. I’ve included one of my favorites above as we turn to read this week’s scripture, a hymn of praise.
Our scripture for this week comes to us from the book of Psalms, a book filled with Hebrew Poetry and songs for when we need to spend certain kinds of time with God. Psalms has poems of lament, thanksgiving, and praise, songs that tell stories and speak of God’s promises to God’s people. This week’s psalm is classified as a hymn, a special psalm of praise with a specific pattern. Let us read together this hymn from the Book of Psalms:
I will thank you, YHWH, with all my heart
in the meeting of the just and their assembly. 2 Great are your works,
to be pondered by all who love them. 3 Majestic and glorious are your works,
and your justice stands firm forever. 4 You make us remember your wonders—
you are compassion and love. 5 You give food to those who revere you,
keeping your Covenant ever in mind. 6 You reveal to your people the power of your actions
by giving them the lands of the nations as their inheritance. 7 The works of your hands are truth and justice,
and all your precepts are sure, 8 standing firm forever and ever,
and carried out uprightly and faithfully. 9 You have sent deliverance to your people
and established your Covenant forever.
Your Name is holy and awe-inspiring! 10 Reverence for YHWH is the beginning of wisdom—
and those who have it prove themselves wise.
Your praise will last forever!”
[Psalms 111 (ILB) / Salmos 111 (NVI)]
This hymn of praise offers rich praise to God whom we revere alongside the psalmist. There is no story here, which is characteristic of Hebrew hymns, yet this psalm gives us all language alongside which we can testify. The center of this Psalm tells of who God is with deep faith and rich testimony. This hymn maintains a classic structure of Hebrew Poetry where the first and last verse are parallel or express the same kind of sentiment.
The psalm begins “Alleluia! I will thank you, YHWH, with all my heart in the meeting of the just and their assembly.” The Hebrew word translated as “heart” here is the word לֵבָב (ley-bawb) which can be translated this way but contains a much deeper context in Hebrew. In Hebrew, לֵבָב (ley-bawb) is a term for the inner piece of the human, the seat of the mind, the seat of understanding, the seat of love, appetite, ethics, and courage, the seat of wisdom. When the psalmist writes, “I will thank you, YHWH, with all my heart”, they are promising to thank God with all they are and all they do alongside the others “in the meeting of the just and their assembly.” This is deep devotion and praise for God.
This devotion is paralleled in the closing verse. After listing many reasons to worship God because God is God, the psalmist closes “Reverence for YHWH is the beginning of wisdom— and those who have it prove themselves wise.” The psalmist constructs a parallel between the praise of YHWH with all we are and all we do and holding a reverence towards God. They instruct us that this praise for God because God is love and compassion and God begins our journey to wisdom. Said another way, acknowledging in our very core that God is good, holy, and deeply worthy of our praise is proof that we are becoming wise.
It is my prayer that you might feel this reverence to God and praise God from your very core this day and all days. And that we may all grow in wisdom as we grow in gratitude and love always.
May God bless you this week with rest, gladness, and love!
Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian
We will take a break from weekly meetings for Children’s Worship this August, but we will have a small bit of programming in our weekly Children’s Worship Newsletter. This programming will always align itself with our scripture for the week, and I encourage you to engage with it for yourself or alongside whatever children might be in your life.
After reading this week’s scripture (Psalms 111), discuss the following questions:
1. What does this scripture make you think of? Do any people or places come to mind?
2. What questions do you have about the words we read?
3. Does any part of this passage stand out to you?
4. What are you thankful for that God has done in your life? In the world?
5. Why does this passage say we should thank and praise God?
6. What can we do to offer praise to God this week?
I look forward to hearing how your conversation goes! I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all meaningful conversations about gratitude and praise for our living God.
(The illustration above is from Page 53 of Tiny Truths Wonder & Wisdom)
Well, it isn't food for your stomach (though when we are able to meet again in person, we will share a brown bag lunch right after church), but it is food — almost a banquet — for your soul.
SoulFood Fellowship is a gathering of The PARK members and friends who get together from near and far after worship on the third Sunday of each month. We engage in conversation that is bound to get you thinking and talking. We discuss and reflect on books, articles, documentary films, or plays —in light of our faith, Bible Study, and concern for social justice.
We have concluded our study of Juan Gonzalez's Harvest of Empire, and on July 18 we'll be taking up a new social justice focus—beginning with a review and commentary by one of our participants and followed by our response with regard to what God requires of us. We would love to have you join us and share your perspective, experience, hopes, and concerns.
Pandemic of Love is a mutual aid community of care that was started in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. It humbly began on March 14th, 2020 by one person and was intended to help her own local community. But, like an epidemic, the act of love and kindness spread quickly and is now a beautiful movement helping those in need throughout the world.
What is a mutual aid community? It connects people in need with patrons who can help with that need. This is a tangible way for people to give to each other, quickly, discretely and directly.
What’s the catch? There is none. Kind people are introduced to kind people which results in an act of kindness and human connection.