In the Psalms, as in the Beatitudes, the righteous are promised joy. Yet we know from our own and others’ lives that such a promise is no formula. Godly people suffer, while those who perpetrate evil seem to get by or even prosper. Nevertheless, joy fills our hearts as we remember God’s compassionate love. Goodness will overcome evil, and God is assuredly on the side of the just.

Jesus would later use Abba, or “Father,” to speak to the Divine, but this name for God is used only twice in the Psalms. So we listen thoughtfully to the psalmist’s meaning. In Psalm 68, God’s nature is described as a “father to the fatherless, a defender of widows. . . . God sets the lonely in families, [God] leads out the prisoners with singing” (niv). Thus, we see the character of God, who like a father looks with compassion on his vulnerable children.

My own family was created through adoption. I remember that first night in the hotel, with our two-year-old adopted daughter sleeping between us. I could barely sleep as I was overcome with awe and frightened by this new responsibility. And I felt unspeakable joy. I believe that this is the kind of joy the psalmist is talking about, a joy found in offering and receiving love, mercy, and justice. When we live into God’s vision, when the weak are made strong, when the lonely are comforted, and when all children are welcomed and loved, we can find this kingdom of God on earth.

In just a few verses, Psalm 68 gives us a taste of the messianic vision, which, as Christians, we find realized in Jesus who blesses children, honors widows, and sets captives free. When power is used in the service of love, God is near, incarnate in this world.

God of the vulnerable, help us to recognize them and to act on their behalf. May they feel the joy of your reign in their lives. Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer John 17:1-11

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Leccionario Semanal
May 18–24, 2020
Resumen de la Escritura

Though Jesus has taught his disciples that God’s kingdom is not an earthly one, following the Resurrection some are still expecting him to set up a kingdom on earth. Instead, Jesus ascends into heaven in front of them, being taken up in the clouds. The scene recalls Psalm 68, where the Lord is described as one who rides on the clouds across the expanse of the heavens. In the Gospel reading, Jesus anticipates his coming departure and prays for his followers. Peter talks about a trial—literally a “fiery ordeal”—that is testing Christians. The reference to fire may be specific, for the Roman historian Tacitus records that Nero killed Christians in Rome by burning them alive. The author may therefore be speaking about suffering that is not just metaphorical.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Acts 1:6-14. When have you experienced the power of community?
Read Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35. Recall a time when you recognized God’s power with fear and joy. How might that have been a foretaste of God’s kingdom?
Read 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11. How have you walked with faith through suffering?
Read John 17:1-11. What does it mean for you or your congregation that Jesus prayed for unity among his followers?

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