December 2, 2016

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Isaiah 30:19-26

Acts 13:16-25

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,

    give deliverance to the needy,

    and crush the oppressor.

[Psalm 72:4]

A few days ago, we celebrated Giving Tuesday, a relatively new social movement which, according to its website, www.givingtuesday.org, kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. It comes on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when those who can, focus on shopping for bargains to satisfy the desires of their loved ones at Christmas.

17854216 - human hand on computer mouse laptop on deskThis age of technology has made it convenient for us to ease the guilt of our selfishness by a mere click of the mouse, or a tap of the screen on our electronic device. A simple lift of the finger and voilà! We have donated to a charitable cause, and can return to life as we’ve always known it, feeling good about ourselves and ignoring those who live in poverty for another year, until Giving Tuesday comes around once again. One more obligation we can check off the list. We don’t even have to come in contact with those poor people we are purporting to help.

However, Scripture tells us that the poor, the needy, the oppressed, should be our utmost concern – not just on Giving Tuesday, but ALWAYS! Care for the poor and oppressed has always been chief among the mission priorities that God established for the people of Israel. Psalm 72, a psalm written for the coronation of a king, makes it clear that these are principal areas of royal responsibility.

Yet care for the poor and oppressed is a shared responsibility. Throughout the ages, it has been a chief concern of the church – that is, us. In our baptismal vows, we Lutheran Christians promise to “care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.”

But far too often we are content to leave it up to the charitable agencies and the government. In a society which only seems to value material possessions, our responsibility far too often fails to go beyond that check we write once a year, or that electronic donation we make on Giving Tuesday.

Though written for a king, Psalm 72 is directed at us. We serve a God who sent us Christ to model justice, kindness, faithfulness and mercy for us; and to reawaken in us that sense of concern for all our sisters and brothers. This Advent, may it be so.

Almighty God, you gave your Son both as a sacrifice for sin and a model of the godly life.  Enable us to receive him always with thanksgiving, and to conform our lives to his; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

[Lutheran Book of Worship, prayer 243]

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