“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbours; our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.“
The second scripture passage in the weekly lectionary is usually from Psalms or another book from the Old Testament (occasionally from the New Testament) that functions as a praise, prayer or petition spoken from God’s people or behalf of them to God. Many times the theme of the Old Testament reading, which is the first in the set of four, is echoed in the “Psalms reading”.
Today’s reading from Psalms 80 is a plea and petition for God to save and restore God’s people to their former condition. Yesterday was a plea and invitation for God to come down from the heavens. Today the reading expands upon that, giving specifics of what the people of God need – restoration. And the assurance that God is with them. The second portion of the reading, verses 17 to 19, asks that not only God be with them as the transcendent God, but that God’s presence be with them as the imminent God – or the one that is at God’s right hand.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” (Psalms 80: 1-7, 17-19)
But be aware that when the psalms passage was written, it was not Jesus Christ that was imaged and foretold at God’s right hand. The psalmist had another person in mind. This is one of the characteristics of the Revised Common Lectionary – that scripture is re-purposed to serve a theme or a series of themes. This passage could just as easily apply to Christ as it could for the person the psalmist originally had in mind. In fact, some might say that Christ more perfectly fulfills this verse – restoring life and giving new life to God’s people.
Remember I said Year B’s theme is a renewal of purpose and devotion? As we see our needs, we call on God to fill those needs; to fill the empty places in our lives. And to restore us to the life that God first called us to. We meet God again during Advent as we await the coming of Jesus Christ.
May God restore you, beloved reader, more and more each day and week of Advent. Selah!