My first service after being away on sabbatical, I’m feeling a lot of pressure to make this service good! Luckily, Jack’s sermon will be on the Passover, which offers lots of strong musical possibilities: the Lamb of God, the blood of the Lamb, and the Lamb upon the throne. This is not only a theme with lots of song options, but also provides a panoramic view of salvation history, from Israel painting their doorposts with the blood of a spotless lamb in Exodus, to the crucifixion in the Gospels, to Jesus’ final reign in glory on the throne seen in Revelation.

Less simple was finding a good setting of the lectionary Psalm, the difficult Psalm 149. Unlike its kinder, gentler siblings, Psalm 148 and 150, this Psalm starts off with a “sing to the Lord a new song” theme, but quickly descends into a savage war cry: “Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples.” This is certainly uncomfortable for modern readers. It sounds triumphalistic, nationalistic, and downright bloody. I decided to try my hand at writing a new musical setting of the Psalm that emphasizes the justice of God’s reign rather than vengeance on non-believers.

Today’s service also marks the beginning of the Trinity season, as you’ll note in the change of decoration in the sanctuary. In this season of renewal, we’re renewing a Psalm-based liturgy that we introduced a few years ago. I’m especially fond of it, not only because I’m a fan of the Psalms, but because I’m a fan of using the Psalms liturgically in worship. When we use the words of Psalm 36, “We feast on the abundance of your house, and drink from the river of your delights,” as we prepare for communion, for example, we establish a profound continuity with past worshipers and strong sense of God’s steadfast love through the ages.

–Greg Scheer, minister of worship