by Rachel Robinson
Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19
1 Give the King your justice, O God, *
and your righteousness to the King’s son;
2 That he may rule your people righteously *
and the poor with justice.
3 That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
and the little hills bring righteousness.
4 He shall defend the needy among the people; *
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.
5 He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure, *
from one generation to another.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, *
like showers that water the earth.
7 In his time shall the righteous flourish; *
there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall
be no more.
18 Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel, *
who alone does wondrous deeds!
19 And blessed be his glorious Name for ever! *
and may all the earth be filled with his glory.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on social media. Everywhere I go, I read things like:
1. Keep the Christ in Christmas! (He’s already in it. No one is literally trying to remove Jesus from this holiday.)
2. There’s a #WarOnChristmas! (Really? Are you freely allowed to observe this holiday? Then there’s no war.)
3. Join the Advent Conspiracy! (Ok, if you have to join a group to remind you to be compassionate, we have problems. Also, Conspiracy? Is that the best word choice?)
4. Jesus is the Reason for the Season! (Obviously. So is the stranger next to you.)
Pipe down, Quippy.
As we say in the south, we have bigger fish to fry… y’all.
I think this is why the Psalms are my favorite part of the service. They center me. They remind me what is important, or the bigger fish. This week is no different. As a teacher and church-worker who often finds herself in impossible situations, I need to believe in the words of Psalm 72: He shall defend the needy among the people, He shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.
I was having a conversation with some co-workers about how poverty deeply affects our students, and how people don’t understand the obstacles these students face. Forget standardized tests, the children have bigger fish to fry. Can you imagine not being able to afford to buy shampoo for your child? Can you imagine not having a winter coat? Can you imagine only being able to eat at school? Can you imagine working during the summer to help your family with bills? Can you?
I always love the holidays because when the family gets together, I get to hear all of the good stories. The funniest story is when my cousin Donna put the cat in the freezer. My dad’s grandmother, Granny, found it. She put it underneath the wood stove and it thawed right out. Yes, it walked away. It didn’t go near Donna again, though. My dad swears that is the honest to God truth.
Ok, so maybe that story fits better with Resurrection.
My other favorite family story is listening to my cousin Becky talk about her mom, Dimple. Yes, that was her real name. Well, Great-Aunt Dimple got ole-timers (that’s southern for Alzheimer’s). When Dimple would see homeless people or people asking for money on the road, she’d turn to Becky and say, “We need to stop, it might be Jesus!” She asked Becky to stop the car countless times when she saw people in need, and those people were always strangers.
There’s something beautiful about that thought process: See that person? Stop, it might be Jesus.
Is someone hungry? Stop, it might be Jesus.
Is someone cold? Stop, it might be Jesus.
Is someone in need? Stop, it might be Jesus.
That bigger fish? Stop, it IS Jesus.
For the poor and the oppressed, for the unemployed and the destitute, for prisoners and captives, and for all who remember and care for them, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Rachel Robinson is an adjunct English professor at Tennessee Technological University, Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Cookeville, TN, and a 9th grade English teacher at Cookeville High School.