Psalm 121 (NRSV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
In the movie The Sound of Music (1965), the Reverend Mother quotes Psalm 121 to Maria before Maria and the Von Trapp family flee Germany's invasion of their Austrian homeland. Psalm 121 is called the "traveler's psalm." Humans persistently travel. Traveling began when Adam and Eve left the garden. Traveling into Egypt, Abraham deceived to gain safety. The Israelites fled Egypt's violence to safety. The Holy Family fled their homeland's violence to Egypt's safety.
Countless people endure violent, forced travels without safe destinations. This year is the 400th anniversary of the first Angola-to-U.S. slave trade voyage. Currently, at the U.S. southern border and many countries' boundaries, people arrive having fled violence and poverty by undertaking forced, dangerous travels, which are not chosen, safe relocations. While humans persistently travel, Psalm 121 promises that God persistently travels with us. Furthermore, from Leviticus 19:34 onward, God persistently commands us to love arriving travelers as we love ourselves.
God of travelers, thank you for persistently traveling with us, whatever our lives' journeys. Help us to persistently welcome and love travelers who come into our communities. Amen.