Advent Devotion – Friday December 21
The Rev. Douglas Avilesbernal, Executive Minister of the Evergreen Baptist Association, ABCUSA, member of Board of Trustees, American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, CA
But I am supposed to be happy now!
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
4 O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved. (New Revised Standard Version – NRSV)
The Advent and Christmas seasons are very difficult for many of us. It is difficult to gauge how many of us hurt during this season since nearly all of us put up a brave face and become happy, like everyone else. In our desire to not bum anyone out many of us suffer in private and too often add the guilt of feeling down when we’re supposed to be happy. So, if we are the ones feeling the pain of suffering and then putting up a happy front, it can be nearly unbearable. If we are full of the joy it can be too easy for us to miss the signs that would tell us some in our community are suffering.
It is in this quandary that I find the beauty and relevance of the 80th Psalm coming to us less than a week before we celebrate Christmas. It comes to us just in time to make sure we tend to that side of who we are and/or make sure we care for those hurting.
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved. (v. 3)
May we be reminded that this is also a time when God comes into our midst. A time when we can Finally! Pour out our hearts to Jesus as he arrives and plead for restoration. We might not all be happy during this time, but we can all find comfort in Christ just the same.
Thank you, God, for coming into the midst of our messy world. Forgive us for our contributions to the mess. Heal us of the pain and sorrow that seeks to embed itself in our lives. Help us to know your joy that we might live in your peace. Amen.