An Advent reflection for Tuesday, December 5th by Rev. Cindy M. Wu
Lectionary reading for 12/05/2023: Psalm 79; Micah 4:6-13; Revelation 18:1-10
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 79
Psalm 79 New International Version (NIV)
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. 2 They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild. 3 They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. 4 We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.
5 How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name; 7 for they have devoured Jacob and devastated his homeland.
8 Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Before our eyes, make known among the nations
that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.
11 May the groans of the prisoners come before you;
with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die.
12 Pay back into the laps of our neighbors seven times
the contempt they have hurled at you, Lord.
13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
we will proclaim your praise.
As I sit and write this, conflict is raging in Israel and Palestine. Buildings in and around Gaza have been reduced to rubble. Blood is being poured out among these “blood brothers”, with dead bodies too numerous to give a proper burial. The words of Psalm 79 echo the cries of deliverance for generations of those who have lived in this part of the Middle East. These words have never felt more graphic or real to me than today.
What would it look like for nations to know and acknowledge Yahweh as Lord? To call upon his name in their distress? The world is weary of war. We cry, “Never again!” and “Peace, peace!” Yet war rages non-stop on this planet. Psalm 79 is a cry for deliverance and justice. It is also a confession of sin. It is not the weapons of war that cause destruction but the sin we harbor in our hearts against one another. We are in desperate need of the kingdom of heaven to rule in our hearts and eradicate pride, fear, judgment, envy, and contempt. Peace must reign in our hearts before we can find it on earth.
In times like this, I try not to despair. I pray, I hope, sometimes I act, but mostly I long for Christ’s return. I ask, “How long, Oh Lord?” I cry out, “Help us, God our Savior.” Sometimes I wonder why it takes God so long to show up.
Yet, I am reminded by the psalmist that God is sovereign. In the midst of war and destruction, the psalmist recognizes the hand of God. He turns to God with his questions, doubts, and longings. He still looks to heaven for ultimate justice. He still desires to praise God.
Advent is a time to reflect on Christ’s coming. Christ came, and he will come again. Soon and very soon, he will calm all wars, right all wrongs, heal all hurts, and bring everlasting peace. How I long for that day!
What emotions are stirred up in you as you read Psalm 79? What longings do you have for our world? Pray for whatever God puts on your heart. How strong is your longing for Christ’s return? Put your hope in his return.
Pray this as a cry of your heart, but also with security and hope in his Second Coming: “Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake” (Ps. 79:9).
About the Author
Cindy M. Wu is a missions mobilizer and ordained minister. She is the co-founder of Mosaic Formation, a formation ministry serving leaders of underserved communities. Cindy holds an M.A. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is the author of books on global Christianity and refugees. You can get further acquainted at www.cindymwu.com.