Make the Land Great AgainJuly 22, 2016
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Americans watched a dark speech last night featuring a yelling man casting an apocalyptic vision. We need prophets willing to cast an alternative vision. There's a chance for that on Sunday.
Many churches use the common lectionary, which lays out scriptural passages to use each Sunday. The lectionary creates unity as we know Christians around the world are studying the same passages, and help pastors dig into passages they might otherwise skip. These are planned years in advance and therefore are not in response to current events. And yet, it often seems clear the Spirit is at work in the timing of passages.
This Sunday, the lectionary includes Psalm 85, one of the lament psalms that was likely written after the Jewish exile. It's a prayer for national restoration, for making the land great again. But it offers quite a different approach than trusting fully in one man who says "believe me" with no details and promises his strength alone will bring law and order (dun dun).
The first half of the Psalm reflects on how God had brought them back to the land and asks for God to "restore us again." The psalmist then offers a plan for how this restoration will occur - and it's not by putting a strongman in charge. After all, strongmen are largely the reason they ended up in exile in the first place.
"I will listen to what God the LORD says," the psalmist declares.
The psalmist notes that God "promises peace to his people" but they must "not turn to folly." We then find a beautiful vision of what it looks like to to listen to God and make the land great again:
Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
That's quite a picture. It's not an angry man yelling at us. It's not a call for killing people. It's not a call for walling off people. It's not a call for keeping "them" out of "our" country. It's not a dark message of fear and hate.
It's us listening to God. It's love and faithfulness coming together. It's righteousness and peace joining together. That's what makes the land great again. That's what makes us great again. We must reject any opposing message - and opposing voice - as folly.