Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Creation and Shalom (Psalm 85:7–13)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Sunday, 26 March 2017

Week 5: Creation—Not for Sale

Week 5, Day 1

From a hymn by Isaac Watts, 1719

Our God, our Help in ages past,

Our Hope for years to come,

Our Shelter from the stormy blast,

And our eternal Home!

Under the shadow of Thy throne

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

Sufficient is Thine arm alone,

And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting Thou art God,

To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone,

Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its years away;

They fly forgotten as a dream

Dies at the opening day.

Creation and Shalom (Psalm 85:7–13)

Tetty Sabrina Rotua Tambunan, Lutheran, Indonesia

Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Life flows from the past into the present and the future. While human memory is important, we are also aware of its fragility. The way we remember things from the past can influence our present and future. Bitter experiences of the past—both at the personal as well as the collective level—can make us more cautious about life in the present, as well as in the future.

The eternal memory of God who is the past, present and future is different. In Psalm 85, the psalmist, in the present, remembers God’s favor in the past and seeks restoration and peace—shalom—in the present and the fulfillment of God’s faithfulness in the future. While we do not know any details of the psalmist’s life, clearly it was not ideal. And yet the psalmist is able to look ahead and believe that God’s shalom will be declared (Psalm 85: 9–14).

In the midst of unknown difficulties, the psalmist proclaims that God will grant us shalom, giving us the strength to live in the present and promising us a glorious future. God’s shalom is not only safety from an enemy but also stands for justice and the welfare of the people. Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. It means more than the absence of war and conflict, but includes wholeness and health.

In Psalm 85:10, God’s salvation is understood as a meeting of steadfast love (kheh’-sed) and faithfulness (eh’-meth). While the Hebrew term kheh’-sed includes elements of grace, kindness, friendliness, compassion, the word eh’-meth includes elements such as sustainability, correctness, reliability, predictability, stability. God’s grace and goodness are manifest in God’s actions in the continuous relationship with Israel, regardless of mistakes made by Israel in the past. God declares righteousness and peace for Israel, and for you and me.

For Christians, the memory of God’s goodness is rooted in Christ’s work on the cross, where steadfast love and faithfulness have met, where righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Remembering God’s love in the present and God’s faithfulness in the past becomes a promise that can be experienced as shalom of God’s people throughout the ages. And so we dare to meet the future!

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”