Advent Psalm Reflection: Psalm 85, When Justice and Peace Kiss (Pt. 4 of 4)

Advent Psalm reading for December 7, 8, 9, & 10: Psalm 85

Reflecting on Psalm 85 During Advent

This is the second Sunday of Advent, when the second candle is lit to represent peace—”Jesus Christ is our hope for peace.” The advent psalm liturgy I have been reflecting on is Psalm 85, a Korahite psalm that speaks about God’s faithfulness to forgive and redeem and whose presence ushers a season of justice and truth. This is a profound reflection for the Advent season. As we delve deeper into the layers of Psalm 85, we uncover its relevance to our modern journey of faith, especially during this season of Advent.

In this time, Christians are called upon to attune hearts and minds daily toward the anticipation of Christ. It is a time when Christians are aligned with other Abrahamic traditions in the expectation of a coming Messiah. The uniqueness of Christianity is the belief that God came to walk among humans, as a human, in order to demonstrate the truth, justice, and love that is woven through the scriptures known as the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible.

Interfaith Reflections and Modern Sensitivities

I recently engaged in an interesting conversation with a leader at a Christian church who believed that Christian celebration of Jewish traditions, even those described in the life of Jesus, like the Passover Meal, were not substantially Christian. Rather, they saw this as cultural appropriation. This stirred in me a frustrated response. I can see their position as it is clearly based on modern identity politics that includes well-intentioned sensitivity, and I appreciate the commitment to cultural awareness. In support of their view, I have witnessed the Christianizing of religious and cultural traditions in absurd and irresponsible ways. However, as an academic, as a teacher, and as a scholar of the Hebrew Bible, I have found that responsible engagement with the ancient customs and traditions of proto-Christianity and Judaism can bring enlightened interfaith discussions and opportunities for reconciliation. This conversation brings us to the heart of Advent’s message – understanding and embracing our shared spiritual heritage.

Embracing the Inclusive Nature of God’s Love

In light of advent and the promise of reconciliation between God and God’s creation, if there is ever a time to consider how we might build bridges toward one another, it is now. One of the things that continuously draws me back to the Gospels and the message of Christ is the inclusive nature of God’s love. For God, we are all God’s creation, made in God’s own image, and reflecting back the potential for love, even a vast breadth of love for the world. Reflecting on these interfaith dynamics, we are reminded of the universal message at the core of Advent – the inclusive and boundless nature of God’s love.

The Courage to Build Bridges

There are more commonly held values mong religions than disparate ones. How can we follow the example of God, whose love was so great as to step into creation, vulnerable and humble, to experience firsthand what it is like for us? This is exactly what the Messiah taught. Find ways to listen, relate, and show compassion. If we are to err on the side of justice, we should be reaching toward one another and not away from each other. I do not always know how to do this, but I know it takes courage. This Advent season, as we reflect on Psalm 85 and its promise of divine reconciliation, let us embrace the courage to build bridges of understanding and compassion, following in the footsteps of the Messiah. This is the true essence of celebrating our shared humanity and divine love.

As we continue our Advent journey, let us ponder: How can we embody the spirit of reconciliation and love in our daily interactions, honoring the divine image within each of us?

Coming Up on An Advent Psalm Reflection

Tomorrow’s reading introduces a new Advent Psalm for reflection.

This entire series and a link to the liturgical readings on the Advent Psalm Reflections page.

*The translations are JPS from

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