6 Pray that Jerusalem has peace:
“Let those who love you have rest.
7 Let there be peace on your walls;
let there be rest on your fortifications.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I say, “Peace be with you, Jerusalem.”
9 For the sake of the Lord our God’s house
I will pray for your good.
The city of Jerusalem is a holy place and perhaps a life-long dream destination for many of God’s people. In the Bible, it also stands for the place where God dwells. God’s house is there, and God’s peace dwells there.
The psalm does not say that peace is only for Jews or Christians. It is a holy city across many religious traditions. Nor should we forget that God’s house is much bigger than just the place where we go to worship. Therefore, when we say when we are looking for peace in God’s house, we must consider that we are looking for the kind of peace that extends to people everywhere.
But do we really believe that peace among people is possible? For that matter, do we believe in world peace? During one informal poll, I heard the pastor ask, “How many of you really believe that world peace is possible?” As I recall, in a room of about a hundred people, maybe about five people raised their hands. Ouch, where is our faith?
Perhaps, like me, you sometimes think of peace as a dream, or even a fantasy. It is nice to think that peace is possible, but maybe we think of peace as so unlikely that we stop preparing for peace.
Preparing for peace is part of the reason the church has historically “passed the peace” as an expression of greeting and, God willing, a prayer and action moving us towards peace. In reading this psalm, we are reminded to not just believe that peace is possible, but to actively pray for peace. Not only does this help us work for peace but by this action, we are reminded that there is comfort and rest in seeking peace. “For the sake of my family and friends, I say, ‘Peace be with you, Jerusalem.’” Let this psalm say to us that peace for all within God’s house is possible. Therefore, “Peace be with you.”
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
What action steps do you take to truly work for peace all around you? How do you pray for peace? With the pandemic, we have had to stop “Passing the Peace” during worship. What are some creative ways that you think we could use as we might bring this type of greeting and prayer back to worship?
Prayer: Creator God, You have seen us at our best and worst in the world. You have seen us a part of violence and witnessed sharing of peace in extraordinary times. Help us now to sow peace in the lives of others. Let us be people of peace! Amen.