Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Day 9

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah
  -- Psalm 89:1-4
We have been taught that the poems and laments we call the Psalms were written by David; some of them carry his name, but many do not. Some seem to have been designed to sing in worship while others are, quite frankly, individual petitions that we sometimes find hard to stomach. David did not originate the form; it was common in worship around the Mediterranean and Ancient Near East. Many of the Psalms may have been written at various times such as during or following the Babylonian Exile and were to remind the people of just why they were where they were and encourage the hope and trust that they would be redeemed to return home one day.
The Psalmist of this particular poem incorporates praise with thanksgiving. The praise is for God’s faithfulness and love that do not change while the thanksgiving is for the trust that God would hold to the covenant made with David and his descendants. Even though many of David’s descendants were not good or righteous kings, they were still David’s heirs and so those who carried their bloodline onward were considered heirs of that covenant.
Imagine that you are in a strange land, and you aren’t sure you will ever see your home again. Think what comfort it might bring you to hear someone remind you that God is still present, that the promises God has made will still be upheld and that this will never change. It might make you feel somewhat better, wouldn’t it?
Many don’t have to imagine being in a strange land, even if they are in their home country. Many are homeless and do not have a home to return to, or who are trapped by poverty in a place they really do not want to be but cannot escape. There are some in the strange land of hunger or illness, or locked in a place where violence is an everyday occurrence and fear is a constant companion. What are promises that don’t produce action? What of the promises made to our armed forces, promises that we will support and take care of them yet how many homeless, damaged veterans are there on our street corners? How about promises made to the Native Americans? How many other promises have we made and broken?
Advent reminds us that God keeps promises but also expects that we will do the same. That’s one reason there is so much emphasis in the Bible about caring for the widows and orphans, the marginalized and the alien resident in the land. How can we begin to right these broken promises?
The one who was born in a stable is counting on us.

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