Written by Mary Luti
Before starting, the meeting host should print out enough copies of this page (click on green printer icon above) for everyone in the group.
After general introductions, word of welcome and review of guidelines for small groups the meeting host will:
1. Invite someone to read the daily devotion printed below aloud.
2. Read the following introduction to the full text aloud:
In this devotion, Mary Luti notes that God is forever doing new and marvelous things, but God's people don't always look, sound, or act as if we believe it, or as if we think it's a good thing! Instead, we act all worn out, repeating the same old, same old. If we're not growing our capacity for welcoming God's creative grace, we're likely to end up actively resisting it. When was the last time you or your church welcomed something new, took a chance, clapped your hands with surprised delight, went somewhere unexpected with the Spirit, or 'sang a new song'? How did it happen? What did you learn? Would you do it again?
3. Read the full text again (below): Psalm 98
O sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done marvelous things.
God's right hand and holy arm have achieved the victory.
The Lord has made known this victory;
God has revealed God's vindication in the sight of the nations.
God has remembered God's steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for God is coming to judge the earth.
God will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with justice.
4. Take a minute or two for silent contemplation.
5. As a group, reflect on the following questions (remember to refrain from cross-talk):
What word, phrase or image jumps out at you from this reading? Everyone shares without commentary.
What’s God saying to you in this passage? (remember to refrain from cross talk)
What is the call to action for you and/or for our faith community? (feel free to engage in group conversation when discussing calls to action).
6. Close the meeting by praying the Lord’s Prayer together.
"Sing God a new song, for God has done marvelous things…" - Psalm 98:1
Some church folk would rather drink battery acid than sing a new hymn. And it's not just contemporary music they resist: even an unfamiliar traditional hymn has them bracing for the fall of civilization. Sing something new? Oh, the humanity! It's like suggesting they dance sky-clad in the moonlight on the village green.
Yet Scripture commands it: Sing God a new song! Why? Because God has done marvelous things. And God keeps doing them, bending history's moral arc towards justice, inspiring movements of liberating hope, sending prophets to stand between tyrants and the poor; freely saving, mending, making joy and making peace. No, the same old songs won't cut it. Only new songs are adequate to the vast, accomplished grace around us.
Of course, scripture isn't demanding that we scrap every hymn composed before 2016. Our psalmist waxeth metaphorical here, and so do I. It isn't about new songs as such. It's about the nimbleness of our imaginations, the agility of our souls, the creativity of our faith. It's about whether we look, act, and sound like we belong to an original God who makes mercy new every morning, or to a tatty old deity who dozed off after creating and hasn't done much since.
Worn-out, threadbare songs suit a worn-out faith in a threadbare God. The singing that scripture commands is the sound made by people for whom life is all astounding gift, whose alert hearts register the vibrations of mercy thrumming everywhere, who love the adventure of marvelous grace, and fear nothing at all except missing the ride.
New lives sing new songs, O God. Refresh me now, and let me sing original praise for your wonderful love.