When Marta and I moved to Cincinnati, we experienced another cultural shock. I had one in New Jersey, as a Brazilian moving to the U.S. I had another one when in New Jersey I worked only with Portuguese speaking people. That was something that I was not expecting. Everywhere I went in that area I could find a store, restaurant, grocery store, gas station, and church where the main language was Portuguese.
Even though I worked for some time with an American church, my main ministry was with Portuguese speaking people. When we moved to Cincinnati, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING changed. There was just a small group of Brazilians there, and we found them because of the World Cup, when we saw a Brazilian couple being interviewed by a TV news reporter.
I remember when we started to search for a church; Marta would get the Yellow Pages, as there was no Internet or Google at that time. That can tell you how long ago this was. It is too bad that we did not have a smart phone at that time to record those conversations. Her first question was not about the doctrine, the government of the church, the location, no, not at all, the first question, and the most important was: “Do you have a drum set?” We were used to worship with a contemporary style, and it was natural to look for something that would resemble our experience.
The first Psalm of the Accents is the first step in the journey to Jerusalem to worship the Lord, and it started in a far land. A land where the culture was different, the language was different, and the religion was different.
The Psalmist tells us that they were living among other people, people who were different from them. They started their journey in a place that was totally different from theirs. Two places are mentioned here, Meshech and Kedar. One is in the north end and the other in the south end of Palestine.
They had to travel all the way from those places to Jerusalem. They had to camp in the middle of those people and do business with them during their journey. They were strangers in that land.
The second thing that we learn is that they were living among people that did not believe in the same God that they did. They lived among pagans. They were people who did not know the Lord. That means they did not have the same beliefs and values that the people of God had.
The people of God had to live and work and serve this people. Because of that, sooner or later, they would talk about God and church and spiritual life. Every time that they had to go to Jerusalem to worship, they had to explain the reasons to go, and share their beliefs with their neighbors, bosses, etc.
Finally, they were experiencing violence. They had to live with violence. We live in a country in which you can believe in any other god, and have any kind of worship, and people will respect that, even though they do not agree with you. It was not so at that time. Having another God and worshiping in a different way was risky.
Power was the language that they knew. Strength and force was used to resolve their differences, and they normally did that with violence and war. We are witnessing a little bit of this situation in the Middle East. The law of the land is the law of the stronger. If you do not believe in what the strong ones believe you are in trouble.
Our world, at least in the western culture, is moving so fast from the foundations of the Christian Faith, that some of us can easily feel that we are living among other people in a distant land. Have you ever felt that way? If so, this Psalm is for you.
Have a blessed week,