1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 2 Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. 4 That is where the tribes go up—the tribes of the Lord—to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel 5 There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. 7 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” 8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God. I will seek your prosperity.
Peace is one of the central themes of Advent, and many of the songs and scriptures for Advent refer to peace in Jerusalem. In this passage, we are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, where the tribes of the Lord go up to praise God’s name. These are the tribes who lived in ancient Israel.
Today, there is no peace in Jerusalem. The idea of tribes runs counter to our modern ideas about unity. How can we pray for peace and unity in a world torn by war? How can we look forward to Christmas when people are suffering?
The hint is in this passage: “Peace be within you.” Just as the house of the Lord can mean our church, the peace of Jerusalem can be peace and unity within our church, our homes, our hearts.
We are not in charge of what happens in the outside world; God is in charge. We can’t understand, in our human understanding, why war rages in Jerusalem again. But we should not give up on the peace of Christ, which can always be with us, regardless of the troubles of this world.
This Advent, we should pray for peace in Jerusalem as they did centuries ago. We should also pray for peace in our own hearts, confident that God is always in charge.
Contributed by Rosie Haden-Chomphosy