Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Praying at the Rodeo

When I mentioned on my FB status last week that our family was going to the rodeo, an old high school friend commented, "You? A rodeo? ......... not buying it!" I understand her skepticism.

But we DID go to the rodeo Saturday night, and I actually did enjoy it when I wasn't shivering (I always forget that Iowa is two states further north than I'm accustomed to). Eastin rode the bucking bull ride and had a blast. Leslie loved the horses. The clown was amusing. I did have to explain to a teary Eastin that roping the calves didn't hurt them -- and then eat my words when they carried one off on a stretcher.

However, the most memorable moment for me was in the opening "ceremonies". They had a very patriotic opening -- lots of flags and proud-American music. Then, the announcer said (and I'll paraphrase), "Now, let's celebrate one of the freedoms we have in this great nation by thanking the God who gave these freedoms to us." And he led the whole crowd in prayer.

I cried. Not enough for anyone to notice (because most people had their eyes shut praying). But I was very moved. Well, actually, I'm not sure if I was moved or if I was saddened at the fact that this felt like such a subversive act at a public gathering.

When Leslie was a baby, we inexplicably found in her diaper bag a cassette tape of a local speaker telling about his calling to, and preparation for, mission work in Salt Lake City. Never figured out where the tape came from -- for all I know, God plopped it into the bag out of the sky, which wouldn't surprise me because I listened to it many, many times and it has profoundly influenced me over the years.

He (don't remember his name now) talked about how he felt led to approach this as a "Daniel ministry". Can't go into the Mormon world as David about to slay Goliath. You go as Daniel to Babylon -- a foreigner, on their turf, there by their invitation and grace, simply living truth in their midst and praying to be given a willing audience.

I feel like Daniel these days. My friend Randy said something a while back about this being the first post-Christian generation. The truth and significance of that has taken a while to sink in. I often felt like I was in Babylon on the east coast, but I didn't expect to feel that here, back in the midwest Bible Belt. Yet, here it is.


DerricksAHor said...

It is absolutely subversive to pray at a public gathering. I fundamentally disagree with the speaker's notion that god gave anybody the freedoms Americans enjoy today.

The freedoms we enjoy were fought for and earned by real brave men and women who risked their lives and reputations for the benefit of their progeny and humanity. For anyone to belittle the sacrifices of these brave individuals by suggesting their rights were granted by their favorite imaginary friend IS not only subversive, it's rude and un-American.

God or country? Which kingdom does one really serve? I choose the one that exists, and that means being respectful of everyone attending a public gathering regardless of belief rather than brashly touting my own.

GJK said...

And I still love you, Derrick. :)

For the record, this prayer was after a salute to our troops and veterans, including a standing ovation for all the military folks present in the stands. Nobody was belittling their sacrifices. And the military people sitting around me were among the first to bow their heads and respond with an "Amen", so apparently they didn't feel belittled -- and apparently they feel they owe their freedoms to God as well.

GJK said...

AND . . .

the kind, young man I came to love three years ago would, if he were in the stands at this event, have been "respectful of everyone attending...regardless of belief" by silently standing aside during the prayer and NOT "brashly touting [his] own" beliefs and causing some kind of scene.