Tuesday, December 01, 2009

First Sunday of Advent: The Peace of Jerusalem

The days are coming,'
declares the LORD, 'when I
will fulfill the gracious
promise I made to the
house of Israel and to the
house of Judah.
In those days and at that
time I will make a righteous
Branch sprout from David's
line; he will do what is just
and right in the land.
In those days Judah will
be saved and Jerusalem will
live in safety. This is the
name by which it will be
The LORD Our
-Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NIV)

At the risk of his life, Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would be overrun by the Babylonians. Yet God did not leave the people without hope. Jeremiah foresaw the coming of a ruler in the line of David – a “righteous Branch” – who would bring peace to a rebuilt and glorious Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s prophesy helped form the developing belief in the coming of the Messiah.

Christians believe that this Messiah is Jesus. The promise of a renewed Jerusalem becomes the hope of a perfected people of God, described as “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven from God.” (Revelations 21:2). And God’s chosen community is expanded to encompass “a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelations 7:9).

But what, then, is in store for temporal Jerusalem? Is it also promised peace?

The great work of the Messiah is to remove the barriers between humankind and God and among people. It is a work of reconciliation and of the righting of relationships which we call justice.

In Jerusalem, Israel, and the Palestinian territories today, we find three faith communities – Jews, Muslims and Christians – and two nationalities – Israelis and Palestinians. Tragically, they are not at peace and they are not in right relationship with each other.

The Messiah is at work to bring these diverse, divided and often hostile peoples together – in peace, justice and security. When we allow ourselves to be instruments in God’s hands to advance this work of reconciliation and justice, we are participating in the fulfillment of “the gracious promise” of God to Israel, Judah, the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the earth.

-Martin Shupack, Church World Service

Show me the way God,
for at times the path is full of
barriers and challenges.
Show me the way Jesus,
for this was also your road
that you prepare me to travel.
Show me the way Spirit,
because with a true heart I
want to call all people
Children of God.

For Meditation
What are the fruits of right relationships? Where can they be found? What do
people do to have such wonderful rewards? Seeing and knowing this how
can we individually and together incorporate one more action, attitude or
learning into our lives that will bear such fruit?

Advent Reflections are reprinted with permission from Churches for Middle East Peace:
Advent is a time of waiting, not sitting back waiting, but a time of anticipating and preparing for what is coming. This season we are all like Mary, waiting for the fulfillment of hope, the coming of God incarnate. And like Mary and Joseph we are sitting idly by, we have things to do.

We hope that these selections of Scripture, reflections by members of CMEP's Board of Directors and staff, prayers and questions for meditation will help you not only center on the promise and hope of Christ's birth, but also on our shared work and hope for peace in the Middle East. With the connection between our faith and this part of God's creation so intertwined it is important that we acknowledge and celebrate our call to this work for peace that is rooted in our faith.

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