Excerpted from The Heart of the Work, an Advent Guide for Lectionary Year B from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure[a] as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
present him gifts.
May all kings bow down to him
and all nations serve him.
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.
Epiphany is here and it’s time to feast and celebrate. The wise men have visited Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, giving honor & recognition that Christ is born!
At the NC Council of Churches, we aim to sing in tune with how the incarnate One calls us to do justice and establish a reign of peace and righteousness for all of creation. Through this work we envision a stable climate where humans live in right and just relationships with one another, but also interconnected with a healthy, thriving, natural world. We attempt to accomplish our mission by encouraging a culture shift towards environmental justice and creation care, while underscoring the importance of climate action for people of faith and conscience as a moral imperative.
Psalm 72 is not only praise for the one who rules in God’s name, but is a mandate for all believers to dedicate ourselves to environmental justice, racial justice, economic justice, and criminal justice as a moral imperative. Here is the place where our personal praise puts on boots and walks toward God’s justice. We are those who advocate with our vote, our voice, and sometimes our protesting presence when those who make the laws for our nation are not responsive to the laws of our faith.
Praise of God and recognition of the One who comes in God’s name compels us to analyze the social and political power dynamics in our communities. It compels us to evaluate the economic systems and wage structures that determine human flourishing. It compels us to examine our stewardship of natural resources entrusted to us on behalf of all who will follow. Once we have analyzed and evaluated and examined these systems, we are called to advocate in those places where the systems have fallen short. To praise God is to do no less than to work for vision of justice God holds before us all.
As we celebrate the Epiphany of Christ, let us reflect on how well we are living into our convictions. Let us give thanks and praise for this Epiphany and the liturgy of Psalm 72, as we are reminded of the glory of God and what we are called to do as people of great faith.