The turn toward Advent is a difficult turn to make. We issue this ancient call to contemplation at the same time we receive calls for year-end reports, charity solicitations, academic finals, and holiday parties. We are called to pause at the same time we may want to numb ourselves with activity, evading the grief of a holiday season post-divorce, job loss, illness, or death.
Today’s psalm bids us pause and consider what, precisely, we are waiting for. Or really, whom we are waiting for. This psalm is an invitation to envision what restoration may look like. As we focus on the coming birth of Christ, the light of the world, we are asked today to imagine what that light may reveal and how those revelations may be restored.
Take a moment today to rewrite this psalm in your own words. Name God in the way that feels appropriate to your place. In verse 1, the psalmist names God “Shepherd” and asks God to stir up might to save them. What aspect of God are you most close to right now? Guardian? Mother? Comforter? Mystery? Author? Dreamer? What action do you most need God to take?
Once you have written your response, speak aloud the psalmist’s refrain: Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we may be saved.
This plea, this asking for God’s face to shine is a plea for God to be recognized in our midst, a heartfelt cry for God to show up in the ways we most need. Consider your needs and where you are looking for God’s face.
God of the forgotten, the scorned, the aching. God of the hustling, the harried, the frayed. Find us where we are, and draw us close to you. Give us eyes to see and recognize your shining face, And all that your presence would heal and restore, That we may be saved. Amen.
As Christians we understand that our faith is rooted in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Micah celebrates this story, prophesying that the true king of Israel will one day come from the small village of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Luke features women prominently throughout his Gospel. The two readings from Luke this week highlight the prophetic insights of Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John, God’s messenger. After Elizabeth identifies Mary as the mother of the Lord, Mary breaks into song, understanding that her story is tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises going back to Abraham. Little does she know that her son will one day offer his body as a sacrifice for all, as Hebrews tells us.
Read Micah 5:2-5a. What small beginnings have yielded great results in your life?
Read Psalm 80:1-7. What is your song of praise to God today? How will you share it?
Read Hebrews 10:5-10. How does your body help you to experience God?
Read Luke 1:39-55. How has God spoken to you through a joyous meeting with another person?
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