Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Advent Devotional #3

Today's devotion from Goshen College:


By Lisa Guedea Carreño, library director

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.


In the midst of an economic crisis that has hit my community, church, friends and family, reading Psalm 80 stirs up real-time, real-life insecurity. In these verses I hear abandonment, bewilderment, even anger, and I can identify with the sense of desperation. How long is this going to last? Why is this happening? Won't someone please come and save us from this mess?

I realize these questions are unreasonable and unrealistic. Moreover, my gut tells me that I am less deserving of rescue than so many others who have far fewer resources than I do. And this "reality check" leads me to a familiar line of questioning: Is God absent or have I been absent-minded? Has God's face been turned away from me, or has my vision been clouded by other things? Has God made my neighbors scorn me, or have my own actions engendered such scorn? Rhetorical questions all, but no less important for the asking.

Also striking about Psalm 80 is how it switches back and forth between reverence and blame, pleas and demands, exultations and accusations. The Lord is a Shepherd who leads the flock; the Lord has given us tears to eat and drink. God is enthroned among the cherubim; God has brought ridicule upon us.

This communal lament is associated with the downfall and/or exile of the people of Israel, whose circumstances were direr than mine have ever been. In this context another line of questioning comes to mind: If they didn’t trust that they would be delivered, would they have bothered to cry out to a deliverer? If the situation was as hopeless as it seemed, why didn’t they just give up?

Lamentations don’t end happily, but they can end hopefully. "Restore us…let your face shine, that we may be saved."


SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.

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.

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.

Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

View all of this season's devotions at

Goshen College

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