New Beginnings

2 Dec

4This morning was the First Sunday of Advent and my first day at my new church.  I am also continuing to work for the Holy Apostles Church and went to Drew Theological School yesterday to listen to a presentation on prison ministry.  So, life has been busy and my blogging has suffered.

Worship went well this morning.  I really want to celebration God’s grace and faithfulness.  So, it is kinda a non-sequitur to talk about Psalm 44.  I really do not identify with this psalm for many reason.  I realize that I am looking at a ancient text from a post-modern point of view, but I have issues.  Of course one of my issues is a neurotic need to do things in order and therefore I can leave out Psalm 44.

1st issue – The psalmist wants to take a rose colored view of the history of the tribe of Israel taking land from other.

 “We’ve been hearing about this, God,
all our lives.
Our fathers told us the stories
their fathers told them,
How single-handedly you weeded out the godless
from the fields and planted us,
How you sent those people packing
but gave us a fresh start.
We didn’t fight for this land;
we didn’t work for it—it was a gift!
You gave it, smiling as you gave it,
delighting as you gave it.”

 

2nd issue – praising God for the destructive of another people.  I realize that is this the tribal understanding of God’s people in ancient times, but it doesn’t work for me.  Probably because my life is easy and I have never had to fight for land or resources.

” You’re my King, O God—
command victories for Jacob!
With your help we’ll wipe out our enemies,
in your name we’ll stomp them to dust.
I don’t trust in weapons;
my sword won’t save me—
But it’s you, you who saved us from the enemy;
you made those who hate us lose face.
All day we parade God’s praise—
we thank you by name over and over.”

3rd issue – blaming everything that is going wrong in life on God.  The psalmist does not take any responsibility for life not going well.

“But now you’ve walked off and left us,
you’ve disgraced us and won’t fight for us.
You made us turn tail and run;
those who hate us have cleaned us out.
You delivered us as sheep to the butcher,
you scattered us to the four winds.
You sold your people at a discount—
you made nothing on the sale.

13-16 You made people on the street,
urchins, poke fun and call us names.
You made us a joke among the godless,
a cheap joke among the rabble.
Every day I’m up against it,
my nose rubbed in my shame—
Gossip and ridicule fill the air,
people out to get me crowd the street.”

4th issue – yelling at God.  Now I have spent sometime yelling at God myself, but not yelling at God to wake up.  I have yelled that I didn’t like the way life was going, but it was more of a venting than a blaming.  This last section of the psalm is not nice.

“Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
If you love us so much, Help us!”

 

Now, having shared my issues, I want to say that knowing the history of Israel I understand times that they felt abandoned by God.

For us, now, I think there are lessons we can learn.  For me it is important to be as honest as I can be about the reality of my life and, if I can understand what led to the reality.  Plus, blaming is never helpful.  I actions are the only actions I have any hope of controlling.  And blaming God is particularly unhelpful.  I believe God is the one who brings new possibilities into life.  I think the only good thing I can say, is that we should look to God for help, but it is probably better to talk nice.

If you have read all the way to the end, let me tell that church went well.  Life seems to always be changing and there is always a new adventure waiting in the wings.  I pray that you will be blessed in these days of preparation for Christ’s birth and not stressed out!

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