We are very excited to be launching our Summer preaching series "Summer in the Psalms," beginning July 4th and wrapping up September 5th.
The Psalms are the "prayerbook of the church," they have nourished the worshipping life of God's people for over 2,000 years. Our prayer is that the middle of your Bible--the Psalms--becomes a familiar companion for you on the journey of faith in Jesus. That cannot happen one day a week with a single sermon. What we want to do is provide a number of different pathways into the Psalms.
Consider this page a place to begin your journey into the Psalter. There are different trailheads to take and we're sure there is one for every kind of person. Please follow the one that resonates with you, or explore a few! Whatever happens, be sure to pick a path, get your feet of faith moving, and let the adventure begin!
Pathway 1: Read Together
There's something beautiful about reading the same Scripture other beleivers in your community are reading, to be hearing the same good news on the same day, seeing God in the same way. This summer, we want to invite our church to read through the Psalms together. Each day, read one Psalm aloud, letting it shape your prayers that day, and your living.
To keep us together on the pathway through the Psalter, Pastor Marcus has created a Reading Plan. It provides the Psalm to read, the kind of Psalm it is (genre), and a brief glimpse into the theme. Click below to download, or at the end of this page.
Pathway 2: Memorize
Psalm 119 encourages us to the practice of "hiding God's Word in our heart." One of the best ways to allow the Psalms to shape how we pray and see God at work in our lives and the world around us is by memorizing Scripture. This summer, would you consider memorizing an entire Psalm?
We would like to suggest Psalm 1 or Psalm 23, but of course you can choose whichever one you like.
Best way to memorize is to get a copy of the Psalm on paper, and have it with you during the day, and then when you have a moment, each day practice it. Just work on one sentence at a time. As you recite it aloud, pay attention to your imagination, what you see, the imagery, how you feel. This helps the words sink into your heart and become a part of you. Try and recite with feeling, try and imagine what the Psalmist was feeling and going through. Put yourself in their shoes as you place their words on your lips.
Hopefully through the summer we can have a few of our people recite their Psalm as a way to encourage and inspire all of us to engage with the Psalms this summer!
Pathway 3: Study
One way we can love God with all our minds is by reading good books that lead us into a greater understanding and appreciation of God's Word. There have been many books written on the Psalms, but Pastor Marcus has taken the liberty to select a few above the rest. We have a few copies of each work available for purchase at MCA and of course they can be purchased on Amazon.ca, if you click on the titles.
"A Long Obedience in the Same Direction," Eugene Peterson
Pastor and Translator of "The Message" unpacks the key themes of following Jesus (Discipleship) by walking through the Psalms of Ascent (Ps. 120-134). This is a classic book with over 200,000 sold.
"Open and Unafraid," David Taylor
Assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller, David Taylor, leads his reader through the key themes of the Psalms so that we, like the Psalmist, can grow into a fearless and open faith before God.
"The Book of Psalms," Robert Alter
Renowned Hebrew scholar and professor, Robert Alter, translates the entire Psalter and offers wonderful insights into the Hebrew literary artistry that no english translation can provide. This is a great companion to have with you as you work through the Psalms, giving fresh insights that will deepen your love of God's Word.
"The Songs of Jesus," Timothy Keller (with Kathy Keller)
This daily Psalms devotional comes out of twenty years of Pastor Timothy Keller reading the entire Psalms every month! Each day, a page will lead you deeper into the meaning of a Psalm and then help guide you in a prayer shaped by the Psalm.
"Praying with the Psalms," Eugene Peterson
Peterson was not only a pastor, he was an accomplished Hebrew scholar who translated the Psalms into the language you and I speak in every day life. This daily devotional has a Psalm excerpt from Peterson's translation (The Message) and then a quick reflection and guide to praying into the Word.
Pathway 4: Watch
For some, reading a book on the Psalms may be a bit daunting. That's where video can be a real help. The following are several curated videos that Pastor Marcus recommends for our orientation into the world of the Psalms. Click on titles to watch.
"Introduction to the Psalms," by The Bible Project
"The book of Psalms is the largest collection of poetry in the Bible. In this video, we’ll explore the design shape and main themes of this marvelous book, which was crafted to be read from beginning to end. The Psalms are an invitation to a literary temple where you can meet with God and hear the entire biblical storyline retold in poetic form."
"Introduction to the Psalms," Dr. David Taylor
"Dr. David Taylor introduces the Psalms, songs that engage with the depth and difficulties of reality and help us speak these things aloud before God."
"This short film documents the friendship between Bono (of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) revolving around their common interest in the Psalms. Based on interviews conducted by Fuller Seminary faculty member David Taylor and produced in association with Fourth Line Films, the film highlights in particular a conversation on the Psalms that took place between Bono, Peterson, and Taylor at Peterson’s Montana home."
Pathway 5: Sing
Our last pathway is music. The Psalms were originally sung prayers and so of course we need to include a playlist of some of the best contemporary renditions of the Psalms, humbly says Pastor Marcus. If you want to jam out to the Psalms, please check out these artists and albums on iTunes or wherever you access your music:
"Psalms," by Sandra McCracken
"Psalms - Live," by Shane and Shane (this is one of their best, but they have other Psalms albums as well)
Sons of Korah have adapted many Psalms to music, most of which is available on YouTube.
"I Will Not Be Shaken," by Canadian artist Steve Bell.
"Psalms," by another Canadian artist and friend of Steve Bell, Mike Janzen
Friend, we invite you into the Psalms. Take a step. Choose a pathway. Let's learn to worship God deeper, and together.