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Glory Over All the Earth
Preparing for the Second Sunday of Advent: Two Days before Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Old Testament: Isaiah 30:19-26
Epistle: Acts 13:16-25
God of timeless grace, you fill us with joyful expectation. Make us ready for the message that prepares the way, that with uprightness of heart and holy joy we may eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness
and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen (Psalm 72:1-4, 18-19).
by Joan Stott
The psalm closes with the very inclusive prayer: “…Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen!”, whilst the first verses pray for prosperity from the mountains and fruitfulness from the hills. Not included in the selected verses is a prayer for people who live on the plains and deserts. However, the psalm’s overall thrust is a prayer for justice and fairness in the treatment by their leader of deprived and destitute people, and all who rule over people living in all conditions of life; and of their need for shelter and housing. The needs of those people who were the victims of unjust and cruel leadership are specifically mentioned in this psalm and this included the exiles, slaves and the poor people who try to scratch out a living from poor quality soil and environment. Within this psalm is the seemingly endless tension between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’; and the way leadership of the day handled that tension. When will we ever learn to follow on the path of God’s Shalom?
Creative pause: When will we ever learn to follow in God’s Shalom?
The opening verses of Psalm 72 are thus, minus the title of the person for whom you would pray for in your own current situation: “Give your love of justice to the …, O God, and righteousness to the …. Help him [her] judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly. ……… Help him [her] to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy ….” Whose name or title would you insert in the gaps; and on what circumstances would your prayer be based? At times it seems that the crushing weight of despair over one’s nation’s politics becomes almost too heavy to bear! Oh, for the faith and hope of Habakkuk: “… Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”1 Today, my prayer is that my faith and hope in God increases!
Creative pause: O God, increase my faith, trust and hope in you!
In this Season of Advent, when we reflect on what it means to re-orient ourselves in our daily living; and to remind ourselves again, that we live in the ‘in-between’ time of Jesus’ coming amongst us as Immanuel – God with us – and the final victory of God over all evil; and the fullness of the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Advent is also a time of repentance when we look back at God’s long involvement with humanity; and yet it is also a time of preparation and expectation, as we are again reminded of God’s many promises that are yet to be experienced by all God’s people. So the psalmist prays for the future of Israel, but also remembered their God-blessed past: “...Praise the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory…” Together and individually, may we prepare, reflect and re-orient ourselves to live in hope and in praise of God.
Creative pause: Give thanks for the past and look in anticipation to the future.
1 Habakkuk: 17-19 (NLT)
PRAYER: O God, hear our humble prayer that we may serve you in holiness and faith and give voice to your presence among us until the day of the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Read more from “The Timeless Psalms,” here.