1 Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you pardoned all their sin. Selah
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.
We have been blessed this morning with offerings of music. These gifts stir the soul and point us onward to the coming of the Promised One, whom Isaiah names “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This last name calls our attention to the message of the day – for this is Peace Sunday. Because we have been blessed with such a wonderful array of music, I only have a few moments to reflect on the message of the Psalm for the day, which reveals God’s vision of salvation.
In Psalm 85, the Psalmist reveals that God’s gift of salvation is found where steadfast love and faithfulness meet, and “righteousness and peace kiss.” This vision of peace speaks not only of the absence of violence or conflict. This peace – the shalom of God – has a much broader meaning. This peace is a vision of wholeness that embraces justice for all creation.
These past few weeks we have witnessed great unrest due to differences over whether justice was served when grand juries failed to indict white police officers whose actions left two unarmed black men dead. These differing perceptions remind us that we have not yet come to a point in this nation where justice and peace have embraced each other. Too often we think that peace is a return to normalcy, but true peace will only come when we allow the Spirit to help us listen to each other and experience through Christ our Lord, restoration of right relationships with God and with one another.
The Psalmist reminds us that this will only come when we recognize that God is the source of steadfast love, faithfulness, justice, and peace. The good news is that the way is being prepared. Yes, as the Psalmist declares:
Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.Having heard this wonderful gift of music, as we move toward the Table of Reconciliation, may we reimagine God’s peace, so that all of creation might experience health and wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and community.