OWAAT December 3: Advent in the Psalms

Here we are at Advent – the first Sunday of Advent already! (Does anyone else wonder just where the weeks, months, and years go?) I am thankful for Advent because while the world around us whirls into the mad rush of Christmas preparation in full force, Advent, this season of waiting, reminds we who observe it that we are waiting for Jesus to be born. Waiting can take on many different forms – it’s not like we’re required to drop everything to wait – but it calls us to remember that Jesus is at the center of all our Christmas preparations, for which I give God thanks. Advent also calls us to remember the kind of world into which Jesus was born, and in our remembering, consider how we see, care for, and seek justice with struggling families in our midst.

This week’s reading ends at the end Book IV of the Psalms, continuing to remind us that despite everyday evidence to the contrary, we Christians live in a God-centered world. They generally continue last week’s overall theme: that God is ultimately sovereign and the source of all life – an idea for which my spirit continues to give thanks and praise.

Think:

Daily Bible readings:

December 3 – Psalm 100
December 4 – Psalm 101
December 5 – Psalm 102
December 6 – Psalm 103
December 7 – Psalm 104
December 8 – Psalm 105
December 9 – Psalm 106

Liturgically speaking, we are at the first day of Advent (isn’t it interesting that this year we waited a week after Thanksgiving for this season of waiting?), in which we wait for Jesus. Brueggemann notes that Psalm 100 really wraps up our readings from last week. “The cluster of Psalms 93-100 relates to the kingship of YHWH, and Psalm 100 serves as an appropriate conclusion to the cluster.” (p.450) Even as we wait for Jesus, perhaps none-too-patiently, God is still with us and is still the ultimate authority of our lives and our world.

Pray:

As we continue our December prayer practice of chanting the Psalms, consider how it feels to chant or sing them. Do you connect to God differently than usual with this practice?

Act:

Dennis Jacobsen in his excellent book Doing Justice (which I encourage all of us to read) encourages people of faith to consider the ways in which we live out our faith, and act strategically on our faith convictions: “Church bureaucrats, theologians, bishops, task forces, and commissions study, research, deliberate, and debate this or that social issue. Preliminary drafts are disseminated for public reaction. Revisions are made. Considerable resources of time, money, and energy are squandered in the preparation of thick documents that few people bother to read. Perhaps their primary value is in being used as references for citation in future church documents. All too often the church deludes itself into imagining that it has now taken a bold and courageous stand. For people of faith who are alert to the limitations of direct service, advocacy, church resolutions, and church social statements, a vital alternative remains. Congregation-based community organizing offers a faithful and effective vehicle for seeking justice in the public arena.” (p. 51-52)

If God is sovereign, what is our work in the world? How do you and your church live out God’s justice in the world? How will you work to close the gap between God’s ideals and our reality as we understand it? If you’re not sure, here are some ideas:

Check the Think! Pray! Act! calendar for things to do.

Find your local faith- or congregation-based community organizing network/organization and participate in their work and actions. Here are links to the major faith-based community organizing networks and their local affiliate organizations:

DART – Direct Action and Research Training Center

Gamaliel

IAF – Industrial Areas Foundation

IVP – InterValley Project

PICO – People Improving Communities through Organizing

What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.

References:
Bourgeault, Cynthia. Chanting the Psalms: A Practical Guide. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2006.

Brueggemann, Walter, and William H. Bellinger Jr. Psalms. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Jacobsen, Dennis A. Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing, 2nd Edition. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017.

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