Throughout this Advent season, my goal is to take each of the four Lectionary readings for each week and write a meditation about each one. Largely my motivation for this is simply that I love the season of Advent, yet there’s also a little bit of hoping that by blogging through this season, I can use it as a means to grieve the recent passing of my Dad.
WEEK 1: A reading from the Book of Psalms
Listen, Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock; You who sit enthroned [on] the cherubim, rise up before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Rally Your power and come to save us.
Restore us, God; look [on us] with favor, and we will be saved.
Lord God of Hosts, how long will You be angry with Your people’s prayers? You fed them the bread of tears and gave them a full measure of tears to drink. You make us quarrel with our neighbors; our enemies make fun of us.
Restore us, God of Hosts; look [on us] with favor, and we will be saved.
Let Your hand be with the man at Your right hand, with the son of man You have made strong for Yourself. Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your name.
Restore us, Yahweh, the God of Hosts; look [on us] with favor, and we will be saved.
— Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (HCSB)
Like our previous reading, we find Israel in trouble. In darkness. In a hopeless situation.
Yet, as we light the candle of Expectancy this week, we find even in the bleakest darkness a glimmer of hope.
I like how Peterson (The Message) paraphrases verses 3, 7 and 19: “God, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation.”
All was dark, and then, God smiled.
The enemy was at the door, and then, God smiled.
The Doctor told you a loved one was in their final hours, and then, God smiled.
It’s important that we realize that God’s smile doesn’t mean that things turn out the way we want them to turn out. Rather, when God smiles we know that there is hope for a brighter future. We know that there is a light shining forth in the darkness. We know that His smile ushers in His Kingdom.
We know that we can make it through the tough time.
When God smiles.
God smiled, and the diagnosis was still cancer.
God smiled, and the illness grew worse.
God smiled, and the situation became more desperate.
God smiled, and death still came.
Yet, even in death, we know that God’s smile brings comfort. God’s smile brings peace. God’s smile brings hope for tomorrow. God’s smile brings forth salvation.
God smiled, and Immanuel came.
God smiled, and resurrection happened.
God smiled, and peace reigned.
God smiled, and Kingdom came.