Prepare to Listen. As you light the 1st purple candle, pray: Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down.
Prayerfully Read Psalm 128
1Happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways.
2You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
3Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
4Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
5The LORD bless you from Zion.
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
6May you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!
The pilgrim psalmist  is in an upbeat mood and sings, Happy (used twice) is everyone who fears the LORD. Happy in Hebrew is closely related to the word blessed, used once. The word blessed is popular today, and not only among Christians. The way it’s mostly used implies that being blessed is an outer reality. One is blessed when things go well or nothing bad (like covid-19) happens. This is partly true, as Psalm 128 suggests. A happy (blessed) man, is one whose labor produces food and wellness and whose wife and children meet in a happy family gathering.
But there is one flaw in our popular use of the word blessed. We avoid the psalmist’s emphasis on the fear the LORD (v1 and v4). The psalmist knows we can’t divorce being blessed from the fear of the Lord and thus walking in God’s ways. This isn’t politicians’ concern when they conclude campaign speeches with, ‘God bless America.’ They mean ‘make America prosperous and great,’ regardless of relationship to God. Being blessed or happy, an inner contentment regardless of circumstances, is a result of the fear of the Lord.
We often dumb down the word fear to a simple reverence for God. It’s more than that and includes literal fear. Not a fear that makes us run and hide, but a fear that dares to draw near to God in awe and wonder; a fear that knows God is so much bigger than us, capable of more than we can even imagine and reveals our finiteness and imperfections. It’s rather like experiencing vertigo, as Tomáš Halík suggests, discovering the greatness and mystery and deep love of God that goes beyond anything we ever imagines  It’s an inner reality, a matter of the heart that affects all of life. Those who fear the Lord experience that kind of inner blessedness.
If being blessed, regardless of circumstances, is only for those who fear the Lord, who are the blessed in your circle? Are you?
Respond to Jesus
Lord, give me a reverence for you that awakens my emotions so that I fear you for your greatness with the fear that stands in speechless awe and owns my weaknesses and finiteness. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, in unashamed fear of the Lord.
  Psalms 120-134 were psalms that Jewish pilgrims sang and prayed as they made their ascent up to the temple in Jerusalem, hence they are called “Psalms (Songs) of Ascent.”
 I Want You to Be, University of Notre Dame Press, 2016, p. 130.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.