Advent Psalm Reflection: Psalm 79, A Negotiation with God (Pt. 3 of 3)

Advent Psalm reading for December 4, 5, & 6: Psalm 79

Reflecting on Psalm 79: A Journey Through Lament

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at the context of the Psalm 79 lament over the destruction of Jerusalem. In Part 2, I read Psalm 79 alongside Micah 4 and 5 to find a path of peace and hope. In Part 3, I will consider this psalm in light of the accompanying New Testament liturgical reading in Luke 21: 34-38.

Luke 21:34-38 – A New Testament Perspective

In the New Testament Gospel of Luke, the Messiah reminds us to try and avoid getting caught up in the despair brought on by hardship and suffering. That despair leads us to seek vengeance and lose sight of the strength and hope that lies ahead when we lean into peace. Luke refers to a cosmic disorder of the world, where destruction seems endless, and despair leads us into what may be described today as depression. As I reflect on this message, I cannot help but think about the trials we have faced in our world of late: COVID-19, political unrest, and war-making between leaders of countries that leave the poor vulnerable and oppress considerable suffering the marginalized. These devastations are great burdens of our age, just as the destruction of Jerusalem was a great stress upon the psalmist in Psalm 79.

Just as the psalmist raged in his request for violent redemption, we may be inclined to rage against our enemies in anger and demand vengeance. But the scriptures lead us toward a more difficult path: a journey toward self-reflection, repentance, and the urgency of prayer for peace and strength.

Feast of St. Nicholas: A Beacon of Love and Generosity

Today is December 6, also known as the Feast of St. Nicholas. On this day, we are reminded of the love and generosity of one person who impacted many lives in his own time and whose actions sparked a movement of generosity and grace. Destruction and violence will be with us as long as humans are in power. But, each person has to measure our own response. These readings come to us in a time of anticipation for the coming Messiah, a great show of God’s love and compassion for the world.

I am personally burdened by the oppression of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable. I also feel the temptation to join along with the many voices in loud and angry protest. There is a battle for peace, even within my soul. But, in the Advent season, I am doubly reminded to pause, reflect, and pray for peace. Can prayer and wishing for peace really make a difference? Should our energy be spent contributing to the vocal insurrection on social media? I am not certain. But I know that faith is not the absence of doubt. In my uncertainty, in my faith, I seek peace—first, by quieting myself at advent.

Remembering the Christmas Truce of 1914

It seems like this is a good time to remember the so-called Christmas miracle of 1914, wherein soldiers from various countries paused their fighting and warring to sing together on Christmas Eve. One account put it this way, “this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.” You can read more here: Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914. So, I will end with the lyrics of Silent Night.

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
’round yon virgin mother and child!
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
heav’nly hosts sing, “Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!”

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from Thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

Silent night! Holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing
“Alleluia” to our King:
“Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.”

Coming Up on An Advent Psalm Reflection

The next Advent Psalm takes us to Psalm 85.

You can find the entire series, along with a link to the readings on the Advent Psalm Reflections page.

*The translations are JPS from

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