Wednesday of Advent 1 – Psalm 122

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

As I write these words, tensions are rising in the middle east, particularly centered on the city of Jerusalem and the modern state of Israel. Of course, I could have written that line at any point over the prior seven decades of modern history, and in fact at many points in the centuries prior to that. In 130’s AD, after a second Jewish revolt, the Romans forbad any Jews from living within sight of Jerusalem. They destroyed it utterly and built a new city on top its ruins, resettling it with gentiles. They even gave it a new name, “Aelia Capitolina.” The Romans also sought to erase the whole Jewish religion, killing Jewish scholars, burning copies of the Torah, etc. The most enduring effect of this paroxysm of Roman frustration was that they renamed the whole province, no longer calling it Judea, but reaching back into OT history for the name of an enemy of the Jewish people. They named it after the Philistines, but that got modified into Palestine today.

The psalmist urges us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I can do that. The long-suffering people of that part of the world need peace. But there is another Jerusalem with a temple for whose peace I will also pray. This Jerusalem is not a geographical place which armed political states control or fight over. This is a temple of people and a Jerusalem, a city, of people, who are under a real king named Jesus. It too needs me to pray for its peace. It has an enemy who sows dissension and discord within it, causing some to rebel or, worse, falsely serve. Join me in praying for this city, this Church of God. John describes it as a mighty host, dressed for a wedding, accompanying Christ on that last day. Be glad when someone says to you, “Let us go up to the house of the Lord.” By baptism you stand within those gates every day of your life. For the sake of the house of the Lord, seek that city’s good.

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