Lectionary Year B
December 8, 2002
Second Sunday in Advent
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Step II: Disposition


Mowinckel relates this to the Psalms of lament, with "strong colors" of expression and longing referring to a state of acute need and distress (The Psalms and Israel's Worship, Vol. i, p. 191).

The lectionary edits out verses 3-7. The Psalm as a whole has a wistful, longing tone: "Lord, will be you angry with us forever?" "Will you revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" The longing segues to a note of prophetic hope with verse 8, with moving visions and powerful imagery: faithfulness grows from the earth itself, righteousness and peace kiss, love and faithfulness intertwine in an embrace.


A. When vv. 3-7 are added, to me the wistfulness and longing culminates in the vision of a wondrous new act of God. The vision of a new earth flows from that longing for forgiveness, for God to again show favor. We read the Psalm through eyes which cannot help but see the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb in 8-13.

B. What magnificent imagery!!! What would "righteousness and peace" kissing be like? In Spanish, "justicia" can mean "justice" or "righteousness", as can be seen in the comparative translations. With righteousness lived out in social relationships and structures, could peace be far behind? What kind of world would this be? What can the Church of Jesus Christ do now in the world as it is that would show at least a dim outline or anticipation of this imagery?

C. "Righteousness/justice goes before him, and prepares the way for his steps"-- sounds like John the Baptizer making ready the road in the wilderness.

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