For a background on Vertical Habits see Betty Grit’s article on page 4. —JB
Connecting Vertical Habits in worship to vertical habits at home and in our everyday life brings us one step closer to making those habits our natural response. The easiest way to keep those habits fresh is to incorporate them into your family or personal devotions. Here are some suggestions for an individual, family, or small group devotional time using the psalms, as well as ideas for incorporating two psalms into a Vertical Habits worship service.
During the Week
- Begin with some introductory questions:
• What does this psalm teach about the vertical habit?
• What words or phrases in this psalm tell the most about the vertical habit?
- Consider reading various translations of the psalm.
- Paraphrase the psalm in your own words.
- Find a way to artistically represent the psalm through movement, drama, or a drawing. (This could be particularly helpful for children or adults who are visual learners.)
Ask how the psalm applies to you personally:
- When do you feel like you identify with the psalmist?
- What ideas from the psalm apply to your own life? (For example, what should you say you’re sorry about, or what do you need to ask help for?)
Encourage further study of the Bible:
- What other psalms can you find that express the vertical habit?
- How do they express the vertical habit differently?
- What New Testament passage (or story from the life of Jesus) illustrates the vertical habit from the psalm?
Here are two examples of using a psalm within the liturgy to highlight a particular vertical habit. (For additional ideas visit www.calvin.edu/worship/habits.)
An arrangement of Psalm 100 could be sung or read responsively at the opening of worship to express our thanks. Children could easily lead these opening words. The words of Psalm 100 could be crafted into an intergenerational dramatic reading. Or a family could be invited to paraphrase it for an opening prayer by following each verse with a specific item of praise or thanks. For example, for verse 3 each family member might express praise for particular attributes of God he or she is grateful for, and for verse 4 each could give a brief and specific prayer of thanks.
Phrases from Psalm 101 could be used as a dedication after the sermon or as a parting challenge before the blessing:
People of God, you have heard the Word of the Lord. What have you been called to do?”
We have been called to love the Lord our God and our neighbor as ourselves.
How will you do this?
We will sing of the Lord’s love and justice. We will show God’s love and justice to others in the way we talk to them and about them.
In order for a practice to become a habit it needs repetition. Consider including other people or committees in your worship planning to come up with the best way for your church community to practice the vertical habits at home, in small groups, and even in committee meetings. The book of Psalms is a great place to start.
Connecting Psalms and Habits
- I love you: Psalm 98
- I’m sorry: Psalm 51
- I’m listening: Psalm 19
- What can I do?: Psalm 101
- Help: Psalm 25
- Why?: Psalm 13
- Thank you: Psalm 100
- Bless you: Psalm 67