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All-our God, All-our Banners, All-our Love

Psalm 20; Judges 9:7-15; 1 John 2:18-28

The anti-monarchy parable of the trees in Judges, in today's lectionary, is fun, and I love the abiding language in I John, but the thing that really catches my attention today is a continuation of the thought from yesterday, and it's in Psalm 120 again.

Verse 5 says, "May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners."Yesterday, I pointed out that when we pray help for another person or group or situation or injustice, that this Psalm says, "May God send you help from the sanctuary," and that's us. We're the ones God sends, we who are part of the priesthood of all believers, who have access to the heavenly sanctuary through Christ's flesh, we who are the very body of Christ. We go out from our sanctuary at God's direction to help the hurting world.

Today, the cool thing is that when they, the others, the people who are "not-us," get victory because God has been helping them, because God has sent us from our sanctuary to help them--when they get victory, we rejoice! We put out motivation in their victory. We put our delight in their victory. When they get that victory, we shout for joy!

And then, in the name of "our" God, we set up "our" banners. My question in this phrase is now who's "we?" Before, we were talking about "we who were sent out to be God's help, and "they" who were being helped. But now, both we and they are celebrating the victory God has given "them." We worked for that victory, too--alongside them, if we're doing it right. Their motivations were our motivations. Their delight was our delight. Tell me again where the line between "they" and "we" went. At this point in the Psalm (verse 5b), God has done great things for them, so isn't God their God now, too? When the Psalm says "in the name of our God," suddenly the "they" and the "we" have merged and we all have the same God.

There's a joke told to me once by a Texan.

Q: What's the plural of "ya'll?" A: "All ya'll."

This Psalm has turned "our banners" into "all our banners" by including "them" in "us." The last thing I thought about at this point in the Psalm is the song, "His Banner over Me Is Love." So I'll end with the image that "all-our" banners of love might be set up over "all-us" by our ogoing out of the sanctuary to help some folks we used to call "them."