July 5th update from David Bridges

July 5th update from David Bridges

Greetings in Christ’s name!

Psalm 137 is one of the most painful prayers in our scriptures.  It is also one of the few Psalms that can be historically located.  It was first prayed in Babylon by Israelites who had been taken there against their will as prisoners of war.  The prayer expresses deep emotional pain, a sense of torment, a call to remember their home, and a wish for vengeance upon their enemies’ children.  Explicitly, it offers a blessing to anyone who will take Babylonian children and “smash them against the rocks.”  That’s not your mother’s bed time prayer.   So how might this Psalm teach us to pray? 

Well, after we get past our need to justify such things in our scriptures, we can notice a few helpful ways Psalm 137 might teach us.  First, it shows us that pain and hatred can and should be freely expressed to God.  The psalmist doesn’t hold back, thinking his language will offend God.  Instead, he tells God how bad it is and shows God how much he hates.  Perhaps it is much better to express our hate in prayer to God than it is to express our hate at or toward others.  Secondly, the prayer teaches us what faithful tenacity looks like.  The ones who first articulated this prayer were on the losing side of a war.  They’d been carried off in exile and there was no reason to expect they would ever return.  So why not just give up any hope of returning home and assimilate into the Babylonian culture?  That would be reasonable.  But it’s not what these pray-ers did.  They hoped against hope, tenaciously refusing to forget their God-blessed home town.  And that hope sustained them through their period of exile. Lastly, the Psalm teaches that though it may be acceptable to express our hope for vengeance against our enemies, we aren’t to take vengeance ourselves, but leave what happens up to God.  It shows us that our ill-wishes for others must stop at just that…wishing.  We can have bad feelings toward people, and it is safe to express those feelings to God, but we must not allow those feelings to be manifested in our actions.  Vengeance is not ours to take.  Pray it out, yes.  Play it out no. 

Psalm 137 offends our modern sensibilities.  But it also shows us some important ways to pray.  May it be one of your guides when you feel displaced or angry or even hate toward others. 

This Week:

After 20 years of successful Dude Camps and Vacation Bible Schools, Janet Black is taking a 6 week sabbatical.  We’ll see her again the second week of August!  Pray for Janet to rest well and return full of energy and joy.

With both Janet and Bobby Kirkpatrick on sabbaticals this summer, and with other staff members taking vacations here and there, make sure to call ahead if you need to stop by the church office during the week.  There will be times when the one or two employees who are here, will work from home so it’s not necessary to air condition a whole office wing at the church. 

Go with God, who fuels our hopes and quiets our fears, everywhere, always. 

Peace,

David Bridges