Chapter 81 kind of breaks my heart.
“Sing praises to God, our strength. Sing to the God of Jacob. Sing! Beat the tambourine.
Play the sweet lyre and the harp. Blow the ram’s horn at new moon, and again at full moon to call a festival! For this is required by the decrees of Israel; it is a regulation of the God of Jacob. He made it a law for Israel when he attacked Egypt to set us free.” 81:1-5)
I like these pieces of narrative in the Psalms, where the author is imagining how God feels and putting language to it. The author is urging Israel to obey God’s command to celebrate a traditional festival (the specifications can be found in Lev. 23:34). Then imagining how God would reward their obedience (81:11-16).
He requires that we stop and celebrate, to acknowledge the rescue story he’s written in our lives. He knows our tendency to latch on to every bad thing, and to run off and forget him without stopping to practice gratefulness. The festivals and feasts that he established with his people are not religious boxes to check. They are meant to reorient our hearts, to give God deserved credit and admiration and to shake us out of our forgetfulness.
As Easter approaches, I want to find a better way to engage. Most years I find myself going through the motions, trying to cultivate deep reverence that feels muffled by menu planning, bunnies or egg hunts. The feast is important, and so is the celebrating. But the remembering is crucial.
How can we engage more fully in lent and Easter?
What does it look like for you to stop and be remember what God has done in your past?