December 06, 2017
By Kevin Williams.
Scripture: Psalm 85: 1-13 (CEB)
Lord, you’ve been kind to your land;
you’ve changed Jacob’s circumstances for the better.
You’ve forgiven your people’s wrongdoing;
you’ve covered all their sins. Selah
You’ve stopped being furious;
you’ve turned away from your burning anger.
You, the God who can save us, restore us!
Stop being angry with us!
Will you be mad at us forever?
Will you prolong your anger from one generation to the next?
Won’t you bring us back to life again
so that your people can rejoice in you?
Show us your faithful love, Lord!
Give us your salvation!
Let me hear what the Lord God says,
because he speaks peace to his people and to his faithful ones.
Don’t let them return to foolish ways.
God’s salvation is very close to those who honor him
so that his glory can live in our land.
Faithful love and truth have met;
righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth springs up from the ground;
righteousness gazes down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord gives what is good,
and our land yields its produce.
Righteousness walks before God,
making a road for his steps.
While this week’s liturgy calls for the removal of verses 3-7 from this Psalm, I’ve chosen to keep those verses in because for me it’s important to remember all three pieces of this poetic text. We need to not only see it as remembering that God once saved the faithful and that there was reason for hope, but also that there was a clear ask by the writer for God to save us.
The Psalmist starts by acknowledging God’s kindness. Today I know I struggle to see that kindness among the mass shootings, the political divisiveness and the rampage of social media attacks flooding our feeds daily. It’s easy to get pulled into all of hate and harm and wonder where is God in all of this. Yet bringing ourselves back to this Psalm reminds us that there have been many times where waves after wave of destruction took place, yet God never left our side as a people. And God hasn’t left us today either.
Next the writer makes the key ask for restoration and salvation. We see thousands of prayers offered among loss and destruction in our world. But where are the prayers asking for God to restore us? This Psalm calls us back into conversation not among each other in despair, but with God in hope. It reminds us that we cannot do this on our own, and that we need the grace and healing power of the Holy Spirit to intercede when all else in our world is spiraling downward.
Finally, the Psalmist gives us the vision of promise for tomorrow. When we spend our hours trying to think of what horrific attack may occur next, we shift our gaze away from what happens when we turn from foolish ways. But when we focus on what we can do to be a force for good, we open the door for God to multiply those blessings and allow “righteousness and peace to kiss.” I know I need to work hard at this daily, because negativity is a far more powerful draw than an optimistic hope for a peaceful future.
We can do the same things the Psalmist did right now in this place and time. We can remember that God has restored us in community in the past. We can enter into prayerful conversation with God for help and salvation. And we can place our focus on the hope and promise in tomorrow through the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to be voices for justice to be sure. But we are equally called to bring visions of promise for the faithful, and to have the boldness to ask God to work through us to bring about hope for God to restore us to a complete and loving community.
Lord, we remember that you have time and time again sought to bring us together in peace and harmony. We are reminded that to accomplish anything good here in our time with each other, we need to seek your help in making your vision possible. Help us to stay focused on being a force for good. Help us to commit to actions that can bring together our world in healing supportive ways. Restore us to enable us to be your hands on earth, working toward your salvation and your peace all the days of our lives. Amen.
Kevin Williams is currently serving as Supply Pastor at the South Killingly Congregational Church.
December 06, 2017