Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Second Week of Advent: Thursday

Why does God bless his people? Why does he help and sustain those who trust in him? If we experience God's blessings and favors during this Advent and Christmas season, what are we to do with them?

The answer to these questions is found in today's psalm, Psalm 67.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.
God, the greatest Giver, always gives to his people so that they in turn may give to others. God blesses us, that we may bless the world. God's gifts are not only for our enjoyment, but also that we may practice hospitality and generosity to those around us, near and far.

This psalm reflects many First Testament gospel texts, including Aaron's benediction upon Israel (Numbers 6.22-27) and the promise to Abraham that his Seed would bless all the peoples of the earth (Genesis 12.1-3). God's plan from the beginning was to restore his blessing to all nations, and, indeed to all creation, not just some small remnant of people.

One day, people from every tongue and tribe and nation will honor him. And one day, the trees themselves will clap with joy, the mountains sing, and the wolf lie down with the lamb in a new creation of righteousness and peace. This is why, at Jesus' first Advent, the eternal Word himself took on real flesh and entered this material world and experienced true humanity and life within space-time history. This is why Paul and the other apostles took the Good News and hit the road, proclaiming it to the ends of the earth. This is why, in our Christmas hymns, we call upon "heaven and nature" themselves to sing and affirm that "He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found." This is why we announce,
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love.
The nations, ALL nations, will experience God putting things to rights and filling them with his steadfast love. And the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas. Until then, our calling as Christ-followers is to seek God's blessing--not for ourselves alone--but for the sake of our families, our neighbors, our communities, our world.

"Let all the peoples praise you!"

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