I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.” (Psalm 122:1 – 5)

My thinking lingers on the verse “Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together.” I am pretty sure that verse described King David’s perspective. It might be that Psalm 122 is one that David wrote. I also think and remember how Jerusalem and the Israelites had problems in the years and generations following King David. The surrounding nations conquered and made captive of many Israelites and Judahites. Lamentations were raised, and prophets both major and minor attempted to raise and bolster the hopes of the Israelites.

It is interesting to me that when the fate of Israel (and Judah) reversed, it was blamed on the withdrawal of the Lord’s favor and protection because the people of Israel and Judah were no longer faithfully following Yahweh. Why is it, I wonder, that when bad things happen fault needs to be placed? Why might it not be just “bad luck” or events and circumstances that have nothing to do with those who find themselves at the receiving end. Grim thoughts, I know, for a praise passage.

But here is my take-away on this – praise the Lord no matter the circumstances.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.” (Verses 6 – 9)

When the city of Jerusalem and the temple, the house of worship of the Lord, were in ruins – not one stone on top of another – did the people still left up praise to the Lord? I wonder. It seems that worship was not “true worship” unless it was done in the “proper” place and in the “proper” way. It seems be true, according to some. But not, beloved reader, according to the Divine. True worship is true when the True Lord is worshiped.

How, you might ask, does this relate to Advent? Again several thoughts occur to me. First, Advent and Christmas are traditionally a time when worship services get quite “colorful” and elaborate. I want to let you know that is okay. There are some who think that during Advent there should be a slow build up of color and pageantry in worship – I am not of that way of thinking. Remember if worship is directed to the Divine, it is good. Second, during the season it behooves all of us to set aside whatever theological differences we have, and come together as called and chosen children of God. Third, let the joy of the season lift your spirits no matter what your circumstances are. This is not only the season of joy but of hope as well.

One of the most powerful Christmas songs I have heard is “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”. If you do not know the background of this Christmas music I encourage you to look it up. Such a mingling of joy and hope amidst turmoil and destruction. Listen to it – I think you will be “glad” that you did! Selah and shalom!