Pastor's Notebook

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

            In October I often write about something related to the Reformation. This year it is the 503rd anniversary. We often hear about the three slogans that summarize the Reformation: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone. There is sometimes a 4th one added which is at the center of the prior three: Christ Alone.


            As I have recently begun a Bible class on the Psalms I thought I would highlight the Psalms as that portion of the Scriptures of which Christ is the center. In those Psalms as well, you will see nothing but the Grace of God that is poured out abundantly on His People, ancient and modern, to be received by Faith alone in the God who is present with each and every person who prays and sings these psalms. The word “Psalm” itself indicates that these words were meant to be sung. And like songs of today there are all sorts of genres. There are love songs, mournful songs, thankful and joyous songs, “somebody done somebody wrong songs,” songs you sing with others and songs you can sing alone.


            The Bible itself encourages us Christians to speak to one another, being filled with the Holy Spirit—Who talks to us through the Scriptures“in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Fatherthe name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-20).


            I think part of what this means, especially as related to the psalms, is a GREAT encouragement for us to know them, memorize them, pray them ourselves, so that we can use these Words of God to help and encourage others. Why do we need so much encouragement? Because life in this world is full of things that will bring us down, and sometimes (always!) very literally to the grave! The greatest number of psalms are called by some as “individual laments.” If you’ve ever felt like life is worth lamenting, there is a psalm for you (at least 40 of them!).


            So, our Bible study is part of heeding St. Paul’s encouragement to encourage one another. The study will be on “select” Psalms. Instead of choosing our personal favorites, we will use the psalm that is selected for use in public worship on Sundays. So, for example, in our first study we looked at Psalm 27. So, each week you’ll know what we are looking at. You have the bulletins mailed to you, in which the psalm is printed. Or, you pick a bulletin up when you come to Church. I am asking then that you read/pray/maybe even sing (!) this psalm every day of the week as you let this “word of Christ” dwell within you. I heartily believe that as you do, you will see that very same Word enlivening your Life and those around you.


I’ll give but one example from something I said on Psalm 27. I will often read portions of this psalm to those who are sick in the hospital or to those dying. So, I joked, “If you hear me reading this psalm to you” I didn’t finish the thought. It was the “….” where the joke is located. You have to fill in the blank. Most filled it in “…I’ll be either sick or dying, and we’d rather not want that!” This psalm, as I translate it, ends with a similar “…” “Had I not believed that I would see the LORD in the land of the living…” Most translations have I believe that I shall look upongoodness of theLord inland of the living! However, the “” allows us to “fill in the blank.” It invites us interact with the prayer in a different way. Maybe a paraphrase would be, “I don’t know what I would have done/would do if my faith in the Lord wouldn’t see me through these difficulties.” And I have heard this sort of faith expressed to me many, many times as a pastor. Even in the most difficult of times, even at the point of death, we know that the LORD will bring us through into the land of the living! Therefore, the conclusion is to “wait for the LORD. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the LORD.”


            I’ll end with two quotes on the Psalms to also encourage you to come to our Monday evening study (6-7 p.m.). The first is by St. Augustine. St. Luther you may recall was a monk of the “Augustinian Order.” (Yes, I called Luther a “saint!” He was/is just as all believers are!)

 

St. Augustine: “If the psalm is praying, pray yourselves; if it is groaning, you groan too; if it is happy, rejoice; if it is crying out in hope, you hope as well; if it expresses fear, be afraid; Everything written here is like a mirror held up to us.”

 

St. Luther: “First practice on one psalm, even one little verse of the psalm. You will progress enough if you learn to make only one verse a day, or even one a week, live and breathe in your heart. After this beginning is made, everything else will follow, and you will have a rich treasury of understanding and affection…”

 

                                                                      Blessings in Christ, you Beloved Saints of His!

                                                                                                  

                                                                                                  Pastor Engler

 

 

 

                                                                                                   


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