Readings for Tuesday 1 December

The readings for today are: Psalm 80; Isaiah 26.1–13; Matthew 12.22–37.

Psalm 80 is a beautiful cry for deliverance that might be sung or prayed by a people in crisis or on behalf of all who suffer. Nevertheless, I fear that lurking in the background are the kind of nationalistic hopes and expectations that trouble me. I suspect that ‘restoration’ (v. 3, 7, 14, 19), ‘salvation’ (v. 2, 19), ‘might’ (v.) and ‘strength’ are militaristic terms that require the ‘driving out’ or ‘destruction’ of other peoples or nations (v. 8, 16b). Such hopes may be understandable for an occupied people. Yet, the Christian gospel celebrates the coming of a messiah who brings peace to all peoples, whatever their tribe or tongue.

Still, the Jesus of Mathew 12.22–37  is pretty uncompromising. Though he heals the sick, he does not spare his detractors. He calls each person to side with him and to live responsibly. If we, like a brood of vipers, oppose what is right and good, we bring condemnation upon ourselves (a message not unlike that of Isa. 26).

In a world that too often favours the wicked, in a world at war, we wait for God and for peace  (Isa 26.3, 12). But waiting is not the same as inactivity. I find myself asking, ‘How might I work for good and for peace today?’

‘Restore us, O Lord God of hosts, Let your face shine, that we may be saved’ (Psalm 80.3, 7, 19).

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