Monday, Advent 1: Escape

The Psalms of Advent, Nov. 28, 2022

Please light a candle if you wish and join me in today’s meditation on the psalms designated for the four weeks of the Advent Season.  How do I select these psalms?  I am not pulling them out of the air, I promise.  They are found in a formalized daily listing of biblical scripture, called The Revised Common Lectionary (1993), that includes readings from the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms, the Gospels, and the letters that compose the New Testament.  These passages were selected in conjunction with Catholic and various Protestant scholars across the States and Canada in hope of creating a sense of unity among denominations that choose to “follow the lectionary,” especially for Sunday teaching, preaching, and worship. It is not a haphazard listing but one made with theological thoughtfulness.

The psalms of Advent were chosen because they reveal something about the themes of Advent: waiting, anticipation, hope, peace, pilgrimage, darkness, and light. The psalm/song/poem selected for the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the first week of Advent is Psalm 124: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20124&version=CEB, giving the reader/worshipper/seeker ample time to sit with this song.  Other psalms will also be repeated. 

Like our psalm from Sunday, this song was also sung on the journey to Jerusalem and recited in worship.  Pilgrimages are an important part of the Book of Psalms, perhaps because pilgrimages are universal.  In some way or another, we are all on journey to something or to someone in our lives.  Sometimes we find ourselves deep in the valley and other times we’ve made it to a mountaintop.  In this psalm, the author has experienced both—a time of great fear, and a time of redemption:

Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Verses 6-8, Common English Bible)

The word that catches me in this psalm is escaped, used twice. When a psalmist repeats anything, he does so for emphasis. Here, his people were in trouble, almost “torn” by the enemy’s teeth. Perhaps an army was about to invade when the “Maker of heaven and earth” intervened, and the psalmist gives great praise.

Escape. As I sat with the word, my first inclination was to ponder how we might escape from all that troubles us, and there certainly is a vast amount of trouble: divisive politics, gun violence, unfounded conspiracy theories and lies, and growing antisemitism and prejudice, all in the U.S. alone. Within my own private life, I have traits and habits I would prefer to flee from or ignore. We all do. No one enjoys being “snared” by what is unpleasant, frightful, upsetting, or painful.

Then I thought about God intervening in the life of all humanity. Instead of escaping divisive politics, an occupied country, lies, slander, and manipulation, injustice, sickness, and poverty, God entered into it. For Christians, God did so through Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, “God-with-us.” For those of other faiths, God did so through various prophets. God enters humanity through nature, relationships, love, and Spirit. God enters; God does not escape.

No matter how far along the spiritual journey we find ourselves, we sometimes have trouble admitting that we need help, particularly, at times, God’s help. Needing God’s help makes us feel less in charge. “God helps those who help themselves,” we are told, so we take it upon ourselves to save ourselves. But that little motto is nowhere to be found in Scripture and is, according to Psalm 124, patently false. God helps those who cannot help themselves; God is for us, not against us. What is, is where God is. This psalm and the journey of Advent toward a birthday entrance are both about the promise of God’s presence. As long as I remember that, I don’t need to plan my escape.
Blessings ~ Rosemary

Photo credit: Pixabay

Author: remcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, wanderer, traveler on the way, Light-seeker ~ hoping others will join me on the journey of discovering who we are and were meant to be. You can reach me at 20rosepoet20@gmail.com or at my blog, Spirit-reflections.org.

2 thoughts on “Monday, Advent 1: Escape”

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