“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).
Take a moment and slowly re-read the verse above as it is recorded in Revelation 1:3. Notice that those who are blessed are both the reader (the one who reads aloud) and the hearers (those who hear). Sacred Scripture was originally written to be read in community. The reading of Scripture was a communal effort. As we read in Revelation 1:3, even the Book of Revelation was read aloud in the gathered community; and in the reading of Scripture, the reader and the hearer are blessed. When we read Scripture, it is best to read it together.
A couple of weeks ago, I introduced the Synod’s 2022 Daily Bible Reading Guide (Click here to access the Guide). This year we are focusing on Poets and Prophets, and this week, we continue to read our way through the whole Book of Psalms. Instead of reading alone, I have invited a partner to join me on this journey.
Walter Brueggemann is a Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He has written more books than you can shake a stick at, including at least 9 books on the Book of Psalms. I am 24 Psalms into this year’s reading, and thus far, Walter has been a good and trusted partner. I like how Professor Brueggemann divides the Psalms into 3 types: psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation, and psalms of new orientation.
For almost two years, we have lived in a state of disorientation, and the Psalms of Lament give voice to those seasons of anguish that we will all experience on this side of heaven. I think of Psalm 13:1 “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”, and hear the psalmist speak truth to a ragged and painful disarray. But the Good News, is that every season of disorientation will come to an end, as a season of new orientation bursts forth.
Psalms of Lament give way to Psalms of Thanksgiving. We are surprised by hope, as brokenness gives way to reconciliation, hate gives way to love, and death gives way to life. As we read in Psalm 40:1-3:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord”.
In a time of disorientation, I am grateful for the promise of poets and prophets. I am grateful for traveling partners, like Professor Walter Brueggemann. And I am grateful for the Living God who makes all things new.
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