The Salvation of God
(Rev. Dr. Allison Tanner is Pastor for Public Witness, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA)
Psalm 124 (NRSVUE)
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away;
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the hunters;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Advent is an opportunity to reflect upon the salvation of God – salvation from enemies and attacks and forces that seek to diminish the humanity and dignity and prosperity of all people. We return to the sacred story of salvation being birthed in our midst to provide hope and comfort for the poor and downtrodden and oppressed who continue to seek safety, freedom, and peace.
November 29 has been designated by the United Nations as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN created this day (in 1977) in recognition of their ongoing failure to live up to their promise to Palestinians (in 1947) to create a place of safety, freedom, and self-determination for the native peoples of the very land they chose to carve up to create a Jewish state. Instead of creating safety, freedom and peace in Palestine, this action has sequestered the ancient people of the land to ever diminishing plots of land through practices of ethnic cleansing and settler colonization.
In light of this day, it is important to remember that the Biblical people of Israel, God’s people, should not be equated with the modern nation-state of Israel – but all of God’s people who continue to long for dignity, safety, and freedom – all God’s people seeking salvation from the oppressive forces within and without that separate us from God, one another, and true peace. To this end, we continue to long for the coming of Emmanuel – God with us – and the safety and peace for all people that comes when justice and righteousness embrace.
Let us pray for the people of Palestine today, even as we long for salvation for ourselves and our world.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And bless the place your peo-ple dwell
Melt ev’ry weapon craft-ed for war
Bring peace u-pon the earth for-ever more.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Emmanuel, draws near.*
* Words by Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad