New Sermon Series: Songs of Ascent
Have you ever heard the expression “all good things must come to an end”? While as Christians, we could rightly argue that some good things are eternal and do not come to an end, that statement sums up my feelings regarding the end of our sermon series “God Unchanging” from Deuteronomy. At the same time, I am excited about the upcoming sermon series that Pastor Josiah has chosen for us to experience together. In the month of August, Pastor Josiah, Pastor G and I will be preaching on five of the Songs (Psalms) of Ascent.
If you are familiar with the Ascent Psalms, then you will recall that there are fifteen of these psalms that are grouped together in the Psalter from 120-134. The most common understanding of these psalms is that they were songs that were sung by the pilgrims of Israel who were on their way up to Jerusalem each year for the festival of Passover, festival of Weeks (which has become Pentecost for Christians) and the festival of Tabernacles. This image of people walking and singing songs together is certainly one that evokes positive feelings in most of us. Sort of a “kumbaya” moment for the people of Israel. But before we let our imaginations drift too far into this idyllic scene, we should remember that journey up to Jerusalem was not always easy. So, these songs may well have provided encouragement for the weary traveler as well as bringing a greater sense of unity as they shared the psalms back forth on the journey.
This group of psalms covers a wide range of topics from thanksgiving to deliverance to lament to wisdom. In other words, they cover the realities and struggles of living as “strangers in a strange land”. That place where we are now--living in our earthly reality while we await our heavenly reality. I know that the poetry of the psalms is somewhat odd to our 21st century ears. I also know that the experiences of Israel, like being taken as captives and then being released from the captivity of Babylon which is a theme of some of these psalms, are not our experiences. Therefore, we can be tempted (or at least I am tempted) at times to think that the Psalms of Ascent do not apply to our current Covid interrupted reality.
Songs for our Journey
My encouragement to you during this short sermon series, particularly if you share the previously mentioned temptation, is to begin to look at these psalms not just as songs for the journey of the pilgrims to Jerusalem but as songs for your journey and songs for the journey of New City East Lake as well. Do you need wisdom? Does your soul long to lament during these complicated times? Do you desire to be delivered? Are you in need of restoration? Do you need a dose of thanksgiving, joy and gladness? You see, all of those themes and more are covered in these fifteen psalms. So, I invite you to do three things during the month of August: (1) read through these fifteen psalms, (2) write down a sentence or two about what part of your journey that psalm connects with and (3) interact with the sermons in the live chat on Sunday mornings to encourage us as the Israelites did together as they ascended the hill to Jerusalem. Then together we will look to the Lord with expectation and wait to see what he has in store for us in our study of these great psalms.
- August 2 | Pastor Gustavo | Psalm 122
- August 9 | Pastor Danny | Psalm 126
- August 16 | Pastor Josiah | Psalm 121
- August 23 | Pastor Josiah | Psalm 130
- August 30 | Pastor Josiah | Psalm 133