Scripture: Psalm 147:1-11
Key verses: (1-3) “Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”
Reflection: Anyone watching the news these days would wonder if God still cares for Jerusalem. We see images of stabbings, shootings, riots, hate speech, all giving visible evidence to the intractable conflict that has plagued the city in recent generations.
Jerusalem has always had a special place in the biblical story, especially since David was made king over 3,000 years ago. The psalmist offers a psalm of praise, giving thanks for God’s protection and compassion toward Jerusalem so long ago. Since then the city has gone through waves of triumph and desolation. Other empires have conquered it and shaped it in their image. Today it is being fought over by diverse and competing factions.
Will there ever again be peace in Jerusalem? Right now it’s hard to imagine. It’s hard to find signs of hope. But they are there if you look. In Ibillin where Father Elias Chacour founded the Mar Elias schools, students from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Druse faith traditions live and study side by side, offering visible evidence that conflict between traditions is not inevitable. In Jerusalem, younger Israelis and Palestinians join energy and effort to protest systems and structures that demonize and marginalize others. Conflict is not the last word.
The psalmist says, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
The fear (respect) of the Lord and the conviction that God’s steadfast love is for everyone — even our enemies — is the beginning of hope. Pray that people of hope, from whatever religious tradition, may become agents for change, agents of peace.
Prayer: We pray for peace in Jerusalem, Lord. We pray for all those who do the work of peacemaking. We pray for those whose hate seems stronger than the glimpses of love we can see. We pray for those so discouraged after so many setbacks. Help us all to hold onto your steadfast love as our only hope for peace among neighbors. In the name of the Holy One who built up Jerusalem we pray. Amen.
Author: Von Clemans
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].