Monday, November 24, 2014

What's your family's narrative? There's more than tradition to the turkey

It’s 4:32 a.m. and I am lying in bed thinking about bread. I want to get up and have a piece of my mother’s nut bread, the one she made only at Thanksgiving, but I would have to rattle around in the kitchen for the scrap of recipe and ingredients. The dog, sleeping at our feet (yes, we’re one of the millions who let them on the bed) would want to get up and go out and bark at the neighbor’s cat, which would wake the husband . . . so I stare at the ceiling and try to remember other favorite foods of Thanksgivings past.

Bread again. This time it’s Bunny bread stuffing. I can’t even remember the last time I ate a piece of soft, white, gluey bread. My mom would rip up several loaves into little pieces and let them dry out overnight. I don’t know what else she did to it, but that stuffing was arguably the best part of the meal, next to the cranberries.

Shadowy light comes in slits through the blinds. I give up and slip out of bed. The dog gets up too.

“Can’t sleep?” my husband murmurs.

 “My head’s full of thoughts,” I say.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Psalms in the news

Marcia Moston

I hear lots of people say they don’t watch the news. It’s all so negative—ax-wielding terrorists and flesh-eating disease, lying, scheming politicians and rioting mobs—who can take it?  I suspect the heaviness of the times is one of the reasons people are stringing up lights and dressing up trees much earlier than they usually do.

I’m all about cheer too. And I would happily light up my half acre of the world all year round if I didn’t worry about my husband with the hedge cutters. But I still watch the news. Maybe that’s why I’ve been seeing the Psalms through a different lens this time through.

Some of the verses could be torn off the front page of the paper. Psalm 59:6—
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. There they are bellowing with the mouths and swords in their lips, for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”  Kabul Afghanistan? Mosul Iraq?

Or this two-three thousand-year-old verse from Psalm 83: They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”  Haven’t I heard that proclaimed more than once recently?

With verses like those as a backdrop, one theme, in particular, threading through many of these Psalms has impressed itself on me. It’s the cry of the captive.

Instead of reading those verses as a cry of despair from a long-ago person, or even of myself on a bad day, I’m receiving them as a gift from God. He’s given me my prayer niche: to pray over the forgotten captive. My journal title is Prayer for the Forgotten Man (Woman).

Some mornings I have a specific captive in mind, but most of the time I have no idea whom I’m praying for. I imagine someone sharing a cell with rats and bugs but no blanket. No sufficient food or light. Some person who can be raped continuously because she’s an infidel and it’s okay to rape infidels. Some person who is barely clinging to life and hope. Maybe they know the Lord. Maybe they don’t.

I pray for them straight out of Psalms. It goes something like this.

Psalm 31 (The captive): I have been forgotten like one who is dead, I have become a broken vessel for I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.

  (The Psalm prayer): Let the groans of the prisoner come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die.—Ps. 79

(Or maybe if I feel they can’t muster up a moment of praise, I’ll praise for them): There is none like you among the gods, O lord. Show me a sign of your favor that those who hate me may see and be put to shame.—Ps. 86

And: God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered . . . Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts . . .  Father of the fatherless and protector of widow—Ps. 68

Nor am I averse to praying against the enemy. Ps. 57 says it well: Let them be like the water that runs away . . . Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime. (Gotta love God’s metaphors.)

Should we pray for captives/abused/oppressed if they are not Christian? A comment on a her.meneutics  article posed this question. “Saved from what? the commenter asked, referring to the futility of a saved body in an unsaved soul.

The question gave me pause for a minute, but not long. I thank God for people who prayed me out of dangerous situations long before I knew the Lord.

Saving souls is God’s business. Praying is mine. I’m going with the words of King Lemuel’s mom: Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.—Prov. 31

All of this is to say (a poor thing if a writer has to clarify her point!) the news makes me aware of people I might not have given thought to otherwise. And from the comfort of my home, with sunlight, warmth and plenty of food, I can hold up someone else’s weary soul and weak arms, and maybe they will see the glory of God.

Along with my captives, I pray for you today that you be blessed and see the Lord’s hand in all you put your to. Thanks for stopping by.