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. Psalm 80:1-3
The book of psalms in our Old Testament is actually a hymnal without sheet music. Hymns were created to be sung, just as composers do today. The psalms that we have now were sung in joy, in pain, in sorrow, in grief and in hope by thousands of voices over the many years.
Here, in what we label as “Psalm 80,” God’s people cried out to the Lord, “Come and save us! Restore us, O God!” The generations before Jesus’ birth were harsh times. Empires had taken over the Promised Land, and the people despaired. But, they had hope to cry out to God and pray that salvation would come. They had hope, even when hope seemed nothing more than a dream spoken in old words of a song.
Our theme this Advent is Waiting with Hope. Advent means “coming” and the season has the bizarre twist of celebrating the coming of Christ as a Child and also the coming of Christ again. Just as the Israelites waited with hope for the Messiah, we now celebrate his birth and we also wait for his second coming. As a people of hope, knowing that Christ will come again, we can get through anything—just as the Israelites did. We can also sing, praise, cry, grieve and more—knowing that God hears us and responds.
Yes, Advent is about the coming of Christ, but for me personally it is also about Love. God who loved the world so much sent his Son to us. God who loved his people so dearly that he gave salvation to us through Christ. We also have the love of family, of community, of dear friends. When I encounter the Christ Child every Advent season, a true gift of love, I am ever grateful for the love that I share here on earth as I wait for his coming again. Because since Christ came once, as promised, Christ will surely come again. I wait with hope for this day, since it will mean peace on this troubled earth, restoration of our communities, and more. I wait with hope for his grace to be known by all. I wait with hope, knowing that even in the darkest of times, God’s Love and Light will shine.
But until then, I will sing and join the songs of generations of voices that sang before me. “Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” We are a people of hope, we are waiting, but we are not alone. We are a people of the promise who wait together.
God’s peace and love to you and your loved ones this Advent Season,