Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Advent, Week 1: Wednesday

Psalm 122 (NRSV):

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.

Psalm 122:1 is one of the first verses of Scripture that I learned as a child. Of course, as a little child I believed it meant that I should be glad to go to church, which makes sense because I always was glad to go to church. Church was one of the places where I knew I was loved and cared about, where I knew I belonged.

I've learned a lot more about the celebratory Psalms since my childhood. Now I marvel at how these dear, familiar words were almost certainly sung by pilgrims making their way up to Jerusalem for the festivals. I'm also reminded, in verse 5, that Jerusalem was a new city in the time of David, in some senses a neutral one, designed specifically to be the capital, where all twelve tribes remembered their commonality and renewed their unity.

The coming of Christ as Messiah was not to the throne city, which was already reduced to being capital of a divided mishmash of a conquered, occupied nation. Instead, the Son of David came to reign among the poor, as one of them. From his borrowed makeshift feed trough of a crib to his borrowed grave, the King of kings' earthly life was marked by embraced poverty. What few possessions Jesus owned, he held very lightly. Even his clothes were taken from him and divided by his executioners. Jesus came in such a way that we could -- indeed, we must -- accept him as he is, not for what he has. He permitted nothing to come between him and people, and though he no longer walks this earth in his human body, there is still nothing in the way of approaching him.

As Michael Card put it in his song,"Jubilee," we can "look into our Judge's face and see a Savior there." Jesus is our Jerusalem, he is our Jubilee, he is our Salvation! I am glad whenever I hear, "Let us go to Jesus."

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