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Reflections During Advent: Christmas!

A Psalm of Joy Psalm 96:14. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that is therein. Christmas! Today we celebrate a child born into a world that in many ways is not so different from ours, a world in which wars rage, droughts lead to famine, and corrupt rulers do all they can to cling to earthly power, even to the point of massacring children. But that is only part of the truth. The rest of it is that in the child born in Bethlehem—the child who will grow in wisdom and understanding and later be called the Christ—in that child, the Infinite Divine Creator God and the finite created human being meet. Chris

Reflections During Advent Week IV

A Psalm of Lament Psalm 80:3 (repeated in verses 7 & 19): Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts; show the light of your countenance and we shall be saved. One of the things I love about the Psalms is their expression of a range of human emotions. Whether you’re mad, sad, glad, or afraid, there’s something in them for you. Sometimes people joke about our Virginia weather, saying that if you don’t like it, wait ten minutes and it will change. The same could be said of the Psalms. If you are not attuned to the feelings in any given psalm, keep reading. It won’t be too long before you find a match. This week’s psalm flips the exultant, grateful mood of last week’s psalm on its head. Whereas Psalm 145

Reflections During Advent Week III

Songs of Praise Psalm 146:5. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. Luke 1:46b-47a. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” The third Sunday in Advent uses portions of Psalm 146— or, as an alternative, Mary’s song, the “Magnificat.” Some traditions call this day “Gaudete Sunday,” from the Latin word for “rejoice.” Other traditions refer to it as “Rose Sunday” and light the pink candle on the Advent wreath instead of a purple one. Based on the psalm and the Magnificat, we might also think of it as “Gratitude Sunday.” Both Psalm 146 and the Magnificat are

Reflections During Advent Week II

A Psalm for Our "Kings" Psalm 72:1-2. Give the King your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the King’s Son; that he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice; that the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, and the little hills bring righteousness. Often categorized as a “royal psalm” because it mentions an earthly king and his heir, Psalm 72 is a prayer for those royal ones, a prayer that they will be instruments of God’s righteousness and justice so that even the land—the mountains and the little hills—can flourish and contribute to the prosperity of the people. Though we do not live in a monarchy, and though our history and civics classes teach us to value t

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