OWAAT December 24: The Psalms and Christmas

Here we are at week four of Advent and Christmas Eve in our wait for Jesus’ birth, lighting the candle of love, and continuing through the Psalms with #121-127 in our daily readings. While they don’t necessarily have a unified theme, in some there is an emphasis on God’s power and trusting God. We’ll also read the shortest psalm this week, Psalm 117.

Think:

Daily Bible readings:

December 24 – Psalm 121
December 25 – Psalm 122
December 26 – Psalm 123
December 27 – Psalm 124
December 28 – Psalm 125
December 29 – Psalm 126
December 30 – Psalm 127

As we come to the week in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Brueggemann reminds us about Psalm 121 that “Trust in YHWH is not some great abstraction but in fact has to do with God’s attentive care for the fullness of the pilgrim person and the pilgrim community.” McCann agrees of the specificity of God’s care for people: “Psalm 121 affirms that the sovereign ruler of the cosmos has a personal concern for the lives of all God’s people (v. 2).” nibc Borg and Crossan discuss what this care looks like in the eschatological kingdom of God (particularly when compared to the imperial kingdom of Rome): “The imperial kingdom of Rome – and this may indeed apply to any other empire as well – had as its program peace through victory. The eschatological kingdom of God has as its program peace through justice. Both intend peace – one by violence, the other by nonviolence.” (p. 82) What do both the Psalms and Jesus’ birth stories in the Gospels teach us about the nature of God’s realm and God’s care?

Pray:

How is your journey with chanting the Psalms going? Has anything changed in your understanding of them, of prayer, or anything else? Cynthia Bourgeault encourages all of us to use our musical imaginations when singing and chanting the Psalms. “What if you don’t read or write music? Your ear is the composer, not your mind. After all, you’ve been listening to music since you were a baby, and even if you don’t know the technical terms, the patterns are still deeply imprinted in your being. Let your ear lead you in classic Suzuki fashion, and put your mind to work remembering what you’ve heard.” (p. 152)

Act:

In this week between Christmas and New Year’s, many of us finally pause after a long few months of work. The more active we become in our faith, the more important it is to pause for a few hours, days, or a week to simply rest and breathe. Work, including that of the social justice variety, can become not only habitual, but even addictive, and it is important to rest sometimes so that we can come back to it in a revitalized frame of mind. Remember – even Jesus rested. Even God rested on the 7th day – and instructed humanity to do so as well! How well are you able to rest?

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.

McCann, J. Clinton. “Psalms” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Volume III: Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms, Introduction to Wisdom Literature, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Abingdon Press, 2015.

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