May 5, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 122 which celebrates the beauty and stability of Jerusalem as a symbol of God’s enduring faithfulness to us.
I rejoiced because they said to me,Psalm 122:1-2
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Think of the peace this psalm brought to its reciters – the kind of peace we seek in a confusing world.
The disciples in our passage from Acts sought the same kind of peace. As the early Church – the “New Jerusalem” – developed, and diverse converts joined the community, everyone had an opinion about that development. We all know what that’s like! 😉
Many of us have been in discussions about how to use church/community resources, respond to new initiatives, or celebrate liturgy. While it’s great to have expanded energy in the discussion, it can be exhausting, particularly if some opinions are uninformed by prayer, justice, or humility.
The real issue for the early Christians wasn’t simply circumcision. The core challenge was how to remain true to the Gospel as it met the first of many generations of interpretation. To do so, they returned to the “compact unity of Jerusalem”. They held fast to the roots of Jesus’s teaching.
Jerusalem, built as a cityPsalm 122: 3-4
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
The topic of circumcision has long since been resolved by gathering the community in prayerful discernment and humble obedience. But as the ages pass, the Christian community will forever be called to return/remain in the “Jerusalem” of Christ’s teaching.
We do so by continually returning to the roots of the Gospel. That’s what it means to live in radical faith.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.John 15: 4-5
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Poetry: Palm Sunday by Malcolm Guite
Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus, come
Break my resistance and make me your home
Music: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem – Herbert Howells
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within they walls And plenteousness within thy palaces. Psalm 122 vv. 6, 7