Tuesday, May 4, 2010

National Day of Prayer

I'm caught between two straights as the National Day of prayer approaches. Ambivalence reigns as I feel a pull between pros and cons.

  • I AM thankful I can pray in public without being arrested. That freedom is amazing, one that so many of my brothers and sisters can hardly fathom.
  • This country's people and leaders need prayer, and it's pretty cool to have a day dedicated toward asking God to bless them.
  • I cringe at the bigotry Christians can display when demanding religious rights. Hardly as "wise as serpents and harmless as doves". I sometimes wonder if the National Day of Prayer would be observed so religiously by Christians if they would release the notion that practicing publicly gains them a foot in the door of power on the political scene... or the notion that people are drawn to live as Jesus teaches by being told how wrong they are.
  • I am uncomfortable with the impetus to pray for our country. We're concerned that the "Christian nation" is losing favor with God? 
           Was it ever a Christian nation? Can you imagine Jesus either in Washington's place or under his     command on his lauded surprise Christmas Day attack? Ironic, that a "Christian" nation was in the throes of a bloody birth on the day set aside to commemorate another bloody birth... one of a Man preaching peace and offering His life instead of the lives of others... healing instead of killing. How can followers of this Man of Sorrows ask God to bestow more wealth and power on a superpower when others created in His image are suffering... and some at the hands of this superpower? The focus makes me shift in my seat. While flipping through radio channels recently, I came upon a Christian talkshow. An unknown political guru was saying "Some Christians say, we're a superpower, whether we like it or not. I ask, why are we so apologetic? I'm GLAD we're a superpower! Who else do you want the superpower to be?" He went on to say that America is saving the world by spreading "Christian politics". I groaned aloud. Do we know ANYTHING about the Kingdom and how Jesus wants to save the world?
  • If we are to be salt and light in our country, why are we more concerned with the posting of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and holding massive prayer rallies than we are about knowing and caring for our neighbors?

Brian Miller, pastor of Sunnyside Mennonite here in Lancaster offers these timely questions:

"What if Thursday, May 6 was National Day of…
1.  turning the other cheek to the evil person (Matthew 5:39)
2.  beating our weapons into farm implements (Isaiah 2:4)
3.  loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us (Matthew 5:44)
4.  loving our neighbors as ourself (Mark 12:28-31)
5.  selling everything we have, giving to the poor and following Jesus (Mark 10:21)
6.  having no other gods before Yahweh (Exodus 20:3)
7.  “I hate all your show and pretense–the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies…”   (Amos 5:21)
8.  doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)
9.  treating the alien who resides among us as a citizen…of loving the alien as ourselves… (Leviticus 19:34)
10.  asking God to forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4)
11.  confessing our sins one to another that we  may be healed (James 5:16)
12.  trusting in God rather than military might (Psalm 20:7)
13.  sharing our daily bread
14.  reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18)
15.  proclaiming the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15)
What if…
we would gather around a cross rather than a flag
What if…
we would listen rather than speak
What if…
Jesus’ kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven"

What if?

What if the church would remember that
"my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom"
-Derek Webb


Carla said...


Anonymous said...

Hypothetical question for you....

Lets say you alone have knowledge of some person who poses a threat. If you notify the powers that be, it will lead to the death of that person. If you don't it may lead to the death of others.

How would you respond?

Becca said...

well, scenarios involving real people are rarely that cut-and-dried. there is always a third side, always another course of action. what that is will probably be different in every situation. maybe in this one it might be personally risking enough to talk to the perpetrator. so many times, treating an at-risk person as a human with feelings is enough to push them to face their own monsters and get help.

Anonymous said...

That's basically a non-answer, so let’s try this again...

It's 1943 and 13 elite German paratroopers have dropped on at night on the south coast of England. Their mission is to assassinate the Prime Minister of England. They are wearing British uniforms, so in the unlikely event that they are captured alive they would be immediately and
unceremoniously shot as spies. They have no escape plan, this is a suicide mission.

By dawn they are hidden in a barn for the day, the next night they will reach the position from which they will attack the Prime Ministers motorcade.

A young English girl happens to hear them whispering in German and instantly realizes what is going on. If the Germans detect that she has discovered them, they will kill her immediately to avoid having their cover blown. She sneaks away undetected.

She realizes that there are three likely scenarios.

1. She reports them. They are killed.
2. She doesn't report them. They, along with the prime minister and his body guards are killed.
3. She tries to talk to them (as you suggested). She is strangled and buried in the manure pit, followed by scenario 2.

Put yourself in her position. What would you do?

Becca said...

a non-answer? it wasn't intended as such. that is my answer.

your scenario gets complicated because people will do some pretty crazy things when fueled by nationalism. in all honesty, i don't know what i'd do, but i hope i'd rather be killed by a patriot than kill someone out of patriotism.

btw, feel free to identify yourself. ;)

Becca said...

question: in the scenario, wouldn't the mission be compromised and aborted even if they killed the girl?

Anonymous said...

Who I am doesn't really matter, although I expect you'll figure it out eventually.

In response to your question, no the mission is not compromised by killing the girl. She would eventually be found but not until after its too late. (Incidentally, although the WW2 setting is fictional, the scenario is not. If you give a real answer, maybe I'll tell you how it played out in real life.)

Moving on...another dilemma.

Your west bound wagon train has stopped due to a broken wheel and while the men try to repair it you decide, foolishly given the Indian activity in the area, to visit the top of a nearby hill.

From the top of the hill you can see for miles, and the first thing you notice are patrolling US calvary troops to the south, riding eastward.

Then you spot a band of Apache warriors to the northwest, moving into position to attack your wagon train.

If you act immediately you can draw the calvary troops attention. They have enough firepower to annihilate the Indians.

If you hesitate or fail to alert them, the calvary will soon ride out of sight and earshot, the Indians will attack and everyone in the wagon train will die in the most brutal manner imaginable.

Once again, what would you do?

Becca said...

for real, my answer is the same. i don't think it's right to kill another person, whether or not they pose as my political or personal enemy.

why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?

why do we think we get to decide who should live and who should die?

if we believe that death has been conquered by Jesus, why do we go to such horrid means to avoid it?

Becca said...

i could expound upon my view of evil, but the crux of the matter is this: i am trying to live as Jesus did/taught, and he loved His enemies... and told His followers to do the same.

Anonymous said...

It seems that your interpretation of the scriptures offers you no answers at all to the simplest of moral dilemmas.

What will you do if you ever happen to come face to face with real life?

Becca said...

I'd be honestly interested in hearing your interpretation of Jesus' words. I'm still searching... trying to follow.

Anonymous said...

I won't pretend to have a monopoly on the answers, there are convincing arguments on both sides of the issue.
What I find disturbing is when non-resistant Christians attack, from a position of assumed absolute moral authority, those who have reached a different conclusion, when the doctrine of non-resistance has zeros in the denominator of so many of its own arguments.

I have another question as well. This post was not strictly your own...so why are you forced to defend it by yourself?