Scripture: Psalm 85
Key verse: (10) “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.”
Reflection: Psalm 85 offers such beautiful imagery of the coming of God’s promised tomorrow. Verse 10 is my favorite. It contains the words most often associated with God: hesed (steadfast love,) amuna (faithfulness,) tzedekah (righteousness,) and shalom (peace.) In his interpretation of the text in The Message, Eugene Peterson translates verse 10, “Love and truth meet in the street, Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!” That is such a beautiful image.
Too often in our world these words compete, particularly “righteousness” and “peace.” As a counselor once told a feuding couple, “You can either be right, or you can be married.” That saying seems to put truth and love at odds. The same could be said of righteousness and peace. So often in our world these two goals are set at odds with one another. One of our ordination vows is, “Do you promise to further the peace, unity and purity of the church?” It’s really hard to do all three at once. Fighting for purity often disturbs the peace if not the unity.
But Psalm 85 says, “Love and truth meet in the street … righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” How can this be? The Psalmist speaks of a day when these things will be, of God’s promised tomorrow brought by the coming of the Messiah. As Christians, we believe that the advent of Jesus brings all this to the earth. He is our peace. He is our purity. He is our unity. In him, love and truth meet. As John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” In him, righteousness and peace kiss. He embodies all these qualities. In him, there is no “either-or,” but “both-and.”
In the meantime, we live in the dialectic tension of love and truth, righteousness and peace. All four represent God’s hopes for us, yet it is so hard to know them all at the same time. As we move through the Advent season, may we notice those moments in our lives when the tensions between these truths arise, and seek Christ’s presence in the midst of them.
Prayer: In the midst of life when we feel we must choose between love and truth, or being right and making peace, give us eyes to see your presence that we might know the blessing of all four. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[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].