One of my fondest memories from when I was little is going with my Grandma to her favorite restaurant: The Old Country Buffet. If you've never heard of it, there's a good reason for that (it makes The Golden Corral look like fine dining). I lacked the refined palette I've since developed, so I loved it. The idea that I could go up as many times as I want, and pick out all/only the food I wanted was unfathomable to my 6-year-old brain. My grandma even let me get seconds for dessert. Now, of course, I'm a total foodie and use terms like "slow food," and can tell you the difference between merely "natural" and full "organic." But back then, I remember thinking, "If only the rest of my life were this way..."
The modern American approach to spirituality, however, is awfully close. For most of us, religious beliefs are acquired on a buffet where you pick and choose from among the options that suit your taste. We (much like the segmented trays at the beginning of a buffet line) effectively compartmentalize God into only those specific areas of our lives where it feels most needed and/or safe to do so. Fortunately, the God described in the Christian Bible isn't just another appetizer, or even just an entree! God IS the tray, upon which all of life is organized and placed upon. He is not segmented, compartmentalized, or finite in any way. He has a vested interest and desire to be present in every aspect of our lives... especially those areas where we hesitate or avoid inviting Him into.
Too often we (Christians or otherwise) treat spiritual belief as a mere worldview or list of convictions. Christianity is not a program, a plan, a philosophical position, or even a set of theological propositions. Ultimately, Christianity revolves around a person (Jesus). As such, there is a very personal activity in our experience of faith that is wholly beyond our control or comprehension. The Eternal Creator of the Universe is personally and intimately concerned with our specific, individual, communal and personal well-being. Combine this with His non-compartmentalized involvement in "every inch," and you have a God who is in the midst of our anger, pain, joy, confusion, fear, brokenness, longing, pride, jealousy, ordinary, waiting, vengeance (yup, that too), and praise.
Consequently, each of these facets are the topics we will be tackling each week over the summer.
Nothing so personally and powerfully illustrates this reality quite like the Psalms. The Psalms are are the divinely-inspired hymnbook for God's people. Old Testament Israel didn't read or preach those hymns, she sang them. The Psalms are a rich storehouse of 150 singable truths that give voice to every dimension of human experience: the mountain-top highs, the deepest of valley lows, and everywhere in between. Yet, in the midst of that beautiful diversity, there is a unifying theme woven into a rich tapestry from beginning to end...
God with us.
He is not merely aware, not merely available, He is THERE. With you. His sheer presence transforms our affections and upends our perspective. There is nothing, no inch of life, that is not altered for the better, no aspect of our reality that is not moved progressively closer to the way it ought to be. This summer (starting 6/4), we will take a journey through those facets of life where God's presence is most unexamined, unexpected, and (sometimes) unwelcome. Because God is with us, we can undertake that journey through the psalms eagerly and hopefully, and company is always welcome! Join us.