Thursday, Advent Week 3: Shine

The Psalms of Advent, December 15, 2022

You are invited to light a candle and join me as we reflect upon the final psalm selected for Advent, as designated in the Revised Common Lectionary.  I hope you will sit with this psalm and listen for the word that Spirit is whispering to you. Today’s poem, Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19, will be used in worship in many Christian churches the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before the celebration of Christmas Day, so it is appropriate that the word that draws me in is light

Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19

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.
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.
(New Revised Standard Version)

The entire psalm is divided into four parts that by now may seem familiar to us:
Verses 1-2 call to God for assistance, with the psalm’s refrain, used three times, found in verse 3.
Verses 4-6 compose an urgent plea as well as a complaint about God’s treatment of the psalmist’s people.
Verses 8-13 (not included here) describe God’s past compassionate care and the present uncomfortable situation.
Verses 14-17 renew the petition and plea with the final verses repeating the refrain: “Restore us, Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

Shine.  Light.  Illuminate.  Beam.  Radiate.  Glow.  Enlighten.  Gleam.  We could string these words together and wind them around a Christmas tree, then bask in their healing power as shadows, fear, confusion, and uncertainty creep away.  The entire Scripture begins with a shining at Creation: “Let there be light.”  A column of fire leads the Hebrews through the dark wilderness to the Promised Land.  Yahweh’s presence shines so brilliantly upon Moses that Moses must wear a veil to protect the people from being blinded by his glowing face.  The psalms themselves call on, seek, and celebrate light while hundreds of years after the last psalm was written, the evangelist John writes of Jesus Christ:  “What had come into the world was the light of ALL people.  The light shines in the darkness . . . “  (1: 4).  A quick Internet check reveals that the word light is used anywhere from 272 times to 433 in the Old and New Testaments.

God, by whatever name we use to entreat, implore, praise, worship, scream at, dance with, weep with, keep vigil with, is Light.  Hannukah, Diwali, Advent, and other light-filled traditions shine with that truth.  We are recipients of Light, called to shine in whatever way, small or great, we can.  My prayer this Advent Season is that we all remember that the “light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5) and that we choose to shine with Love.

Shining with you ~  Rosemary

Candle-Prayer

“Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are.” ~ Fr. Alfred Delp, martyred in Nazi Germany, age 38

In the small still shadow of a darkened morning
before the screeching of this broken world repeats,
I strike a match and set it to a stub of wick:
an offering of light being birthed yet again.

Before the screeching of this broken world repeats,
I breathe sacred flame-glow into heart, psyche, soul
an offering of light being birthed yet again,
a single, slender candle singing prayer.

I breathe sacred flame-glow into heart, psyche, soul,
imagine the brilliance of a hundred million candles
burning quietly on the edges of every dawn
before the screeching of this broken world repeats.

I strike a match and set it to a stub of wick,
my hope for this wounded world one fluttering flame,
a single, slender candle singing prayer
in the small still shadows of a darkened morning.

© Rosemary McMahan

Author: remcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, wanderer, traveler on the way, Light-seeker ~ hoping others will join me on the journey of discovering who we are and were meant to be. You can reach me at 20rosepoet20@gmail.com or at my blog, Spirit-reflections.org.

3 thoughts on “Thursday, Advent Week 3: Shine”

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