New Song - Reflections 5-2-18

 For Sunday May 6, 2018
 Sixth Sunday of Easter

 Acts 10:44-48
 Psalm 98
 1 John 5:1-6
 John 15:9-17

 This week in worship, Gloria Dei is dropping the psalm out of the liturgy to make room for our monthly hunger offering gathered by our children. But, Psalm 98 makes a great statement that I don’t want to miss.

 Psalm 98 is one of a “clump” psalms that celebrate God’s kingdom/reign (Ps 93 & 95-99). Another way to talk about “kingdom” might be that God touches all of life.

I try not to whine about the weather, but I’m going to do that anyway. It seemed like cold, and even snow, was never going to end in April. The recent turn to warmer temperatures is like a breath of fresh air.  It is a lot easier to feel hopeful when it is warm and sunny. 

It is generally agreed that this psalm and its friends were gathered together by editors putting the Psalter together to bring hope to the nation of Israel that was living in exile in Babylon. All that they had held true and sacred was challenged in this experience. It was a lot easier to feel hopeful back when the king was on his throne and all was well in Israel. The exile experience brought despair and cold darkness; maybe God wasn’t so great after all.

But, even in the midst of despair and darkness, Psalm 98 calls to Israel (and us) to praise God with a new song, accompanied by lots of instrumental music. It calls creation to join in the chorus – the land, sea, rivers, and hills. Don’t lose sight of what it is about God for which we sing praise: righteousness, steadfast love and faithfulness, justice.  

Remember that all through history God has been there for you (and us) to draw you – and us – into God’s reign. 

My husband and I are of the opinion that it is always easier to see God moving in the rear-view mirror than right front of the windshield.

There are so many ways that darkness distorts our world. Every sphere of existence is touched by it -  our personal, social, political, ecological aspects of life. This psalm says everything that is distorted can be and will be made anew. Salvation and justice will have the final say.  Here in this Easter season we say that a cross and tomb cannot define or limit God. Sing a new song!

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The provided prayers for the Sunday use the “new song” image in each petition. Since the image won’t make as much sense without the psalm being used, I will probably be writing different prayers for this Sunday that go with the rest of the lessons. But the provided prayer is almost poetic in its use of song, and so I share some of the phrases:

…Where discord bellows within the church, unite us in harmony. Where we lack direction, guide us in singing your song with our unique voices…. Where lament and the blues resound, send us to listen…. Serenade the estranged…Eternal Song, you call us to share our gifts for your glory…Your goodness echoes through all time with the songs of the saints. Keep your song within us this day and always.


How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245