the grit of a psalm

I attended the Bishop’s Study day today which was an event for Rochester Diocese clergy. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a pretty cool day.

In the morning we had the privilege of listening to Dr. Susan Gillingham, who is pretty much a world expert on The Psalms. Her passion and interest were great to listen to and I think we all gained masses from just listening to the stuff she had to share. Her knowledge of the context in which the 5 books of psalms were written were particularly enlightening for me. Her lectures have inspired me to delve into these songs a little more than I usually would and consider their meanings and usage today.

In the gathering we have written our own psalms in the past. It has always struck me that many of the Psalms are quite gritty and real communication with God. They contain hymns,  thanksgivings, laments and even Psalms having a right old go at God. It’s true to say they are written in a multitude of emotions.

In the gathering we talk about being more interested in how we believe rather than what we believe. In other words, how we live out our faith, or how we are trying to become Christ like. I think that to live out faith with integrity probably needs us to be real, and by that acknowledging that sometimes life is pretty crap rather than pretending everything is great when it is not.

From todays study day I have rediscovered the gritty honesty of the psalms and wonder whether the writing and reading of psalms may help us to live out our faith in a meaningful way. I can see great opportunity in both personal and communal writing of psalms that might simply allows us to be honest and open in our worship and relationship with each other and with God.

I wonder whether this is something we need to think more about …

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