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Psalm 122

Throughout Israel’s history, Psalm 122 has been the song of pilgrims. Families and communities traveled difficult steps and winding paths, climbing up, up, up to the place where Heaven kissed Earth, the Temple in Jerusalem. Along the journey, a pilgrim who lived in Galilee, for instance, would gain 1,700 feet of elevation by the time they reached Jerusalem. A Psalm of Ascent, indeed.


Growing up in the 1990s, my siblings and I had a good many options for entertaining ourselves on road trips. We had Walkman (both cassette and compact disc) and Game Boy (I started with the Color and eventually moved to the SD, and Donkey Kong Country was my jam)—we even had a little TV with a built in VCR and power adapter that made it possible to plug it into the cigarette lighter so that we could watch movies in the minivan.


However, the journey to Jerusalem was not just a family road trip. It was an act of faith, one that was filled with joy, yes, but also risk. Things could go wrong along the way. The unexpected could happen. Or, a member of the family whose health was failing may know that it was the last time she will be able to take the trip to the house of the LORD. Nevertheless, along the way, there were songs to sing. Did the songs of Israel pass the time? Yes. But they also formed a people along the way. The Psalms of Ascent prepared the people for what they were about to experience.


Psalm 122 is one such song.


But what does this have to do with Advent, on this first Sunday of the Christian calendar?


I’m wondering if we might imagine that Psalm 122 was sung by Jesus and his family as they made