Psalm 80:1-7 —

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 neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.  Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

 

from Scott Thayer, Bethany Memorial Church, Bethany

“All I want is my routine back!” That is what the young man said. He was suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Even ordinary daily tasks had become impossible: brushing teeth, scratching an itch, lifting a spoon. Wistfully he lamented the loss of his normal. This is the message of Psalm 80, except this time it is an entire nation who is mourning the loss of normal. They had thought of God as the Shepherd of Israel, the Protector, the Shield.  But something had gone wrong; Israel’s routine was shattered, and they were left with the bread of tears. This terrible experience gave rise to this Psalm of lament.  But there is hope. Three times the Psalm repeats the refrain: “Restore us, O God of hosts! Let your face shine that we might be saved!” The Israelites sensed that their situation was hopeless without God’s help. Advent beckons us to share in that hope; to look forward to the shining of God’s face in the coming of the Redeemer.

O great God of us all, lift our eyes to your shining face.

Help us to see that when life becomes confusing

and even our routine is gone, you are our new normal.

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