Sermon preached on January 26, 2020, by Rev. Allie Rosner Bass. Worship series, "Won't you be my neighbor?" Sermon, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” Scripture, Psalm 137.
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
The Psalms are a collection poetry that can be sung. The beauty of poetry and music is that it can help us express feelings we may not be able to find the right words to say on our own. Praying the Psalms is an ancient practice in our faith tradition. Today’s Psalm poses a particular challenge to the reader. What kind of prayer is it to pray for violence? It reflects the most raw part of our humanity that came from the real experience of people exiled from the Promised Land. This Psalm shows us how the people of Israel are inconsolable and vengeful. Separated from their most holy place they were incapable of singing the Lord’s Song.
God doesn’t always answer prays in the way we like. Sometimes the answer is in God’s timing and not our desired timing. Other times we get a “no” when we want a yes. God doesn’t answer this prayer for vengeance as some of the exiled people may have wished, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide our feelings from God. We can take all of who we are before God in prayer.
Mr. Rogers answering a question from a young girl about unanswered prayer: “Now, you know prayer is asking for something, and sometimes you get a yes answer and sometimes you get a no answer,” he carefully explained. “And just like anything else you might get angry when you get a no answer. But God respects your feelings, and God can take your anger as well as your happiness. So whatever you have to offer God through prayer—it seems to me—is a great gift. Because the thing God wants most of all is a relationship with you, yeah, even as a child—especially as a child. Look how Jesus loved the children who came around Him,” he told her. (Hollingsworth, Amy. The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers (p. 22-23). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)
- How do you sing the Lord’s Song
- What do you need to take to God in prayer today to bring all of who you are to God?
- How do you invite God into the feelings you have about what is happening in your life, in our community, and in our world?
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