Although summer may seem like a distant memory and spring like a far-off promise during these early days of December in the global North, few things draw the mind as quickly to warmer weather as the smells of freshly mown grass and rain on warm dry earth. This imagery from Psalm 72:6 powerfully captures the visceral sense of growth. It testifies to the vibrancy of life and all that sustains it.
As with the passage from Isaiah, today’s reading presents us with a picture of ideal leadership. Praying that the king will seek justice, care for the poor, and deliver the needy, the psalmist asks for God to guide their leader toward the good of all the people. The rain analogy affirms that compassionate, loving, and just leadership can be life-giving; like rain falling on mown grass and watering the earth, good leadership can seep into the world around it and nourish growth.
We too are welcomed into the type of leadership that Psalm 72 describes. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven, we are called to work toward God’s righteousness, justice, and peace. Each one of us can nurture the growth of the kingdom. We must remember, though, that we are not the ones who create life or growth. As the final verse of this passage reminds us, God alone does wondrous things. By God’s welcome and God’s mercy, we can offer support and sustenance to the vibrant life around us, but only God can begin and truly sustain that life. We can pray to fall like rain on the earth, but God alone is the creator of heaven and earth.
God of the mighty and the weak, give us your justice and your righteousness. Help us to nourish the growth of your kingdom as we remember that only you can create and sustain life. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures look forward to the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah describes a root from the family of Jesse, that is the family of David, that will rule fairly and usher in an age of peace. The psalmist extols the virtues of a royal son who defends the poor and the oppressed and causes righteousness and peace to abound. Christians traditionally read these psalms as prophecies about Jesus Christ. Paul in Romans quotes several prophetic passages from the Hebrew scriptures, but he begins by emphasizing that those writings were given for our instruction. Christianity without the Hebrew scriptures lacks its foundations. Just as we prepare our hearts during Advent for the arrival of the Christ child, John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus in Matthew.
Read Isaiah 11:1-10. What appeals to you in Isaiah’s vision for The Peaceable Kingdom? What challenges you?
Read Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19. Consider the ways you lead in your church, community, or work. How do you nurture the life God has created in these environments? How can you better lead toward God’s righteousness, justice, and peace?
Read Romans 15:4-13. How can you welcome others as Christ has welcomed you?
Read Matthew 3:1-12. How can you prepare yourself to accept a wild or risky proclamation of God’s kingdom?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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