Sunday, January 13, 2013

A little psalm for the week

The little one is napping. I'll try to start off the new year right, not losing these precious cling-free moments to the never-ending list of blog posts and news articles instead of writing. Since today is Sunday, I'll share Slacktivist's Sunday favorite, which happens to coincide nicely with some of what I've been pondering since our trip to the Northern Hemisphere over the holidays.

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
Our vacation was strange and lovely and uncomfortable and relaxing. We struggled with illness, exhaustion, confusion in the face of a culture neither one of us identify with any longer, and confronted with baffling beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. At the same time, we gloried in the love of family and friends, enjoyed contemplating the possibilities of the future, and were spoiled beyond measure (and possibly beyond what our waistlines could handle!). 
There's time to go into all that later. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on this psalm, as it so perfectly captures my bewilderment at the attitudes expressed by many Christians I bumped into in the last few weeks. 
First, joy, rather than despair, should be a marking characteristic of anyone who holds onto the "good news." Otherwise, it's not really good news at all, is it? Secondly, putting our trust in mortals, especially ones in positions of power, is really silly. They're always going to disappoint. Instead, we should put our trust, and model ourselves after, God, who is for everything unpopular on the talk show circuit. God is:
-an advocate for the oppressed
-one who feeds the hungry without asking whether they're worthy of it or not (or begrudging them God's abundance...)
-one who cares about prisoners, not seeing them as irredeemable, and desires to see them free
-one who cares for immigrants, foreigners, and strangers, who stubbornly insists on protecting and providing for the vulnerable
It's quite a political poem, as it should be, because politics are about allegiances and God demands nothing less than our total allegiance. No political party, monarch or platform gets to trump our allegiance to God once we've declared sides. If we give up our trust in mortals, and place in firmly in the One who will reign forever, we'll have the confidence and comfort that will let us sing joyfully in the midst of the worst tumult (or false imprisonment, or zombie apocalypse) that may come. So many people are talking about "prepping" to defend themselves against their neighbors in a coming tragedy, or bemoaning the demise of a "great" nation, or delighting in gossip and disdain rather than praying for their leaders...and all I can think is that these are terribly self-destructive behaviors, as well as being totally contrary to the jubilant spirit we see in the writings of the earliest Christians, who lived in the actual demise of an empire, whose leaders were much more creatively evil than our own, whose neighbors were actively handing them over for torture and death. What did they know that we're missing? Or are we just choosing to ignore it? I don't know about you, but I'd rather choose the vibrancy of an uncertain life with God as my hope than a secure existence under the powers that be (or aspire to be).Why? Because no matter what banner they fly so proudly, they're mortal, and morbid, and ultimately untrustworthy...while God's promises are ones that can actually be fulfilled, bringing good, not harm, to all. 
So that's my sermon for the day. 
Sorry for the long absence. My baby is crawling now, can you believe it? He doesn't like his mother paying more attention to a screen than to him, so you'll have to pardon my erratic posting schedules. Happy 2013!


Anonymous said...

Welcome back!
It is nice to see you posting again.
As will be no surprise to you, I think you mischaracterised the"preppers" motivation and understated the challenges to freedom.
You might be placing me with the "preppers" and my motivation and of others I know is not to protect myself from my neighbors but rather to be able to not be dependent on the government and to be in a position to help my neighbors and family.
As you know the NT church had to go underground because being public meant death.
I agree that we should serve our Lord with a glad heart but that does not deny us the opportunity to be sad about the direction our world is going.
I think our country is facing a dilemma - for most of our history we have been nation of laws( with many despotic exceptions) will we continue or will we be governed by fiat?
Btw we found G's beads. I enjoyed your visit very much!

--jenna said...

We watched the preppers reality show in Canada. It was hideous and depressing and I remember commenting to my sister-in-law that while my parents might have some "prepper" tendencies, they're not getting ready to defend their food stores against their neighbors but making sure there's enough to share. Sometimes my posts hit a nerve, but just so you know, I rarely write about something that pertains to merely one individual. If I'm writing it, it's because I've been listening to a wider conversation than the one at our dining no need to take things personally. :)