February 24, 2021
Shalom: The Way to Justice (Week 1)
Peace for the Congo
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. Psalm 85:8–13

Psalm 85 is a petition from Israel for the restoration of a right relationship to the promised land and to God. Its prayer is for a just, peaceful, and prosperous society where all experience God’s good creation. It is a psalm full of future hopes and expectations. Peace and order come from God. God speaks peace to his people. God’s speech is a creative act. For God to speak peace is for God to create peace. From God’s original creation itself comes faithfulness springing up from the ground, nurtured by the righteousness coming down from the sky — perhaps like the rain kissing the ground and the land yielding food.

The word for peace in Ntomba (Congo) is nye. Between 1997 and 2003, a civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) killed five million people. More than 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid: 7.7 million face severe food insecurity — up 30% from a year ago, according to the United Nations in March 2020. And the latest figures show more than 4.5 million people are displaced, the highest number in the DRC for more than 20 years.
God’s peace is different from a peace built on the world’s justice and order.

Lord God, like the Israelites, we desire to know your justice and peace. We too can recall better days, but we know that true justice and peace are granted by your love. Empower us to act for your gifts to enable all people to live in harmony. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
About the authors of "The Way to Shalom: A Lenten Journey to Peace and Wholeness" from Presbyterians Today (PCUSA): The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., is joined by colleagues Catherine Gordon, associate for international issues; Christian Brooks, representative for domestic poverty issues; Sue Rheem, representative for the United Nations; and Ivy Lopedito, a mission specialist for the United Nations, in writing this year’s devotional. The Office of Public Witness is the denomination’s advocate and social witness in Washington, D.C. Learn more.
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