Rev. Lisa McGehee is an ordained deacon in the Virginia Annual Conference serving as Minister of Adult Discipleship and Communications at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Henrico, Virginia.
The theme for the second Sunday of Advent is love. While the word love is not found in Psalm 72, it’s there in the prayers for justice and righteousness. Psalm 72 originated as a prayer for the king – it is thought to be King David’s last psalm written for his son Solomon. It’s a prayer focused on justice and righteousness – God’s justice and God’s righteousness. It’s a prayer that gives a charge to the king (vv. 2-7) to protect and defend the poor and the needy and to take down those that oppress. Or as described in The Message, “Please stand up for the poor, help the children of the needy, come down hard on the cruel tyrants.” The psalmist prays that justice and righteousness prevails when the king stays focused on God’s plan.
Where there is justice and righteousness there is peace. Where there is peace there is love. Ah, peace and love. Perhaps there is no other time when we pray for peace and love more than Advent. Oh, but wait, this year we have constantly prayed for peace and justice. We’ve prayed for Egypt, Syria and North Korea. We’ve prayed for innocent children and teachers, for Navy yard workers, for marathon runners who lost their lives because someone was calling out for help or sought revenge. We have prayed for senior adults who cut back on meals because of local food pantries with empty shelves. We’ve prayed for cities that have declared bankruptcy. These issues seem insurmountable. This is due in part because governments and political systems appear to be the controllers, perhaps even the oppressors, of this world. Yes, we have prayed for peace and love this year.
Psalm 72 doesn’t give a strategic plan on how to bring about justice and righteousness. However, the key is found throughout all of scripture – the key is love. Even in the darkest of days and times, where there is love, oppression is lifted. When we remember the love that God has for this world, we work harder for justice and righteousness. This week, think about ways that you can be the king – or queen – of love who stands up for the poor, who helps the children and who lets the oppressor know that their way is not a way of love.