Today’s scripture: Psalm 149 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (John Seksay):

When I read this psalm, I know I am in the Old Testament. The first section calls the humble — meek — oppressed (pick your preferred translational term) to rejoice in salvation delivered by their God. The form of this salvation is expressed in the latter part of the psalm as victory in battle over enemy kings and peoples who threaten them. The faithful are to fulfill the promise of their God to punish those powerful nations who do not behave in accord with God’s divine decrees!

When I read this, I feel like I am listening to an ISIS propaganda video. I feel like I am watching a tribe of Indians dance their war dance to fire up their courage for battle. It is not a comfortable (or comforting) scripture passage!

The New Testament seems so much more peaceful. If I ignore Jesus when he drove the money-changers from the Temple. If I ignore Jesus when he said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword . . . ” (Matt. 10:34). If I ignore the crucifixion. Apparently, sometimes extreme situations are required to bring our faith to new levels of understanding and commitment.

So, blessed are the peace-makers. But sometimes making peace involves more effort than quiet study or solitary reflection. Sometimes it takes the form of jail time for attempting to vote. Sometimes it takes the form of little girls being escorted to school by soldiers. Sometimes it means risking everything for the right to be married. Sometimes it means caring deeply when caring at all can be a very dangerous thing. Ask Abdul Rahman, aka Peter Kassig. Being a peace-maker may not mean having a comfortable or safe existence. But without the risks being taken, where is the hope for peace?!

Thought for the day: Lord, help me to actualize the choices that favor your peace!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.