Psalm 122 is a beautiful prayer for safety within community. For the psalmist, the gates of Jerusalem frame the house of God. The author writes a song of peace and security for relatives and friends who live within the walls.
This community had many reasons to be afraid. Enemies were all around. The battles for power and land were constantly raging, and it seemed as if the world outside the gates wanted nothing less than the destruction of their nation.
Survival instincts draw us towards protecting our own community – others who look and act like us. Fear is real. We’re each afraid of life outside our walls, never knowing where our enemies might dwell. We divide the world into “good” and “bad” with full confidence that we’re on the “good” side. It’s often difficult to believe that the folks on the other side of the wall feel the same as we do.
We pray for peace within our walls and security within our own towers. What if we prayed for those on the outside, too? How might prayers of safety and security for everyone widen our community and change the world?
Rev. Tom O’Brien is Senior Pastor of Memorial Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Sudbury, MA.
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