Wednesday, March 1, 2023

By Pastor John Gosswein

We have been using Psalm 27 as a joyful, hope-filled and expressive litany in our (still online!) worships throughout this 2023 Epiphany season. While searching for a way to help our congregation appreciate Psalm 27, we realized several things: The language in our translations can be intimidating, let alone understood; The psalm writer is encouraging the listener to participate in the journey of trust, not to merely hear the account of the psalmist.

We (Pr. Eric Spruth-Janssen, Micah Sherwin, Judy Gosswein and I) took the liberty of adapting the thought and language of the Psalm. We are delighted at the exuberance of response from the congregation with “Thank you, God.”

As presented here, two leaders can be used; Leader 1 makes a statement, asks a question, or even registers a doubt; Leader 2 responds with God’s gracious response and help offered. The cue of “we remember” should be enough to bring the congregational response “Thank you, God!”

While we have been leading the psalm, we have found delightful and meaningful moments to dwell on some of the Leader parts. For instance, we can pause at “enemies we face” and name some things that have bothered or frustrated us. The mention of “war in my head” allows us to elaborate our own conflicting thoughts of fear and hope, or anger and care. Finally, we lean toward language about “God’s house” or “land of the living” to the more applicable “God brings us home.”

For our adaptation of Psalm 27 (see below), we used portions of NRSV, NIV, Message and CEV.

Before the psalm, you may introduce the physical (American Sign Language) sign used for the response Thank you, God! While normal “thank you” is expressed with the hands coming from the mouth towards the recipient, our sign explodes upwards with outstretched arms.


Psalm 27

Leader 1: The Lord is my light. God saves and forgives me.

Leader 2: We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!

Leader 1: The Lord is my Help. I fear no one.

Leader 2: We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!

Leader 1: But enemies and bullies may come after me. What can I do?

Leader 2: Know that the Lord is our help; We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!

Leader 1: War sometimes breaks out in my head!

Leader 2: But the Lord is our light and peace! We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!

Leader 1: Sometimes, Lord, I get scared. Please don’t hide from me!

Leader 2: The Lord brings light into our darkness. God surrounds you with love. We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!

Leader 1: What if I’ve done many wrong things, and feel bad?

Leader 2: The Lord is the one who saves and forgives you! We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!

Leader 1: There are times I don’t know the way to go, and I feel alone.

Leader 2: God is with you, and God will bring you home. We remember: THANK YOU, GOD!