Week of: December 8, 2019
Scripture: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
(Psalm 72:4-5, NRSV)
Lighting two candles and remembering we have John the Baptist waiting just outside the chancel, still unseen but smelly, we turn to portions of Psalm 72. As all psalms selected for this season are well-crafted and have many appropriate uses, in this context our focus is filtered by the coming incarnation of Emmanuel. In a moment, John the Baptizer will call for repentance, but in anticipation we sing to God for holy justice and righteousness for the poor, deliverance for the needy, and peace that abounds.
This prayer/song seems to offer possibilities of a broader perspective; might we even be so bold as to insert our own name in the Psalm? It could be an interesting exercise, for in doing so the focus shifts from who we are asking God to help, to our real hopes. This shift is especially important in light of the continuing preparations for Christ's coming.
What do our worship visuals proclaim about God's justice? Do our anthems and congregational songs offer a vehicle for repentance? Are we engaging in rituals that promote peace and justice?
Could there be such a connection between John's call to repentance and the text of Psalm 72? Is there a lack of justice for the poor? Who is in need of "deliverance"? Does peace abound? The peace of Christ has no bounds but how do we find this justice?
"May [we] be like the rain that falls on mown grass, like showers that water the earth" (Psalm 72:6).
May we incarnate the Word of God in this time and space, that in very real ways, we may usher in God’s peace.
Director of Music, Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, Raytown, MO
Artist in Residence, Community Christian Church, Kansas City, MO