Advent Devotional — Sunday, December 2

December 2, 2007, 12:30 pm; posted by
Filed under Advent, Articles, Featured, Mike J  | 1 Comment

Sunday, December 2, 2007
Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80:3; part of the Vespers Psalm, in the Vespers Reading, p. 6)

Part of the reason Advent and Christmas speak so profoundly to our spirits is the fact that they echo the eternal battle between darkness and light. In many of the world’s religions, darkness is a metaphor for confusion, chaos or sinfulness, while light is a metaphor for viewing the world rightly, in order, in holiness. Christianity is no exception. Throughout the Gospel of John, for instance, we read about the struggle between darkness and light, starting in the very first chapter: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). In this verse, Jesus is described as the light, the very embodiment of holiness and wisdom, the one the darkness can not overcome.

This verse from Psalm 80 is a profound statement. It is written from the perspective of a person who is being severely tested. In the words of verse 6, “You have made us the derision of our neighbors, and our enemies laugh us to scorn.” It is certainly more severe testing than most of us have ever known; it is a psalm written from deep darkness. The writer’s nation is the laughingstock of the known world, and daily people fear for their lives.

In the midst of a life like that, it takes great faith to say, “Show us just the light of your face, and we shall be saved.” We have a hard time saying it even in our little trials! We beg God for solutions we can see: a windfall of unexpected money, a negative test result from the doctor, a letter of acceptance from the grad school. We often need these resolutions to prop up our failing faith.

And yet it is not the resolutions of difficulties that save us. Only the presence of God can save us; only the light of God’s countenance can cut through the darkness. What we need, though often we cannot express it, is not money, health or acceptance. What we need is the light of His countenance more than any of these things.

What will come at Christmas in your life is anybody’s guess. You may have a Christmas straight out of a Currier & Ives scene: the whole family gathered, a great feast on the table, three inches of snow on the ground and more falling, even a couple of Clydesdales outside. Or circumstances may force you to spend the holiday alone, watching re-runs, eating instant noodles in a dark, lonely family room. You may even spend it with a sick relative. Who knows?

But what makes Christmas special, and amazing, is not the fact everything is just so. It is the fact that the light of Christ is cutting its way through the darkness. And darkness has no answer for the light which is to come.

But for now, during Advent, we symbolically enter the darkness, and wait. And our heart’s cry, “Show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved,” is a cry heard in heaven.

Does your branch of Christianity celebrate Advent? What does it mean in your tradition? Is it, as suggested here, a symbolic entrance to the darkness in order to wait anew for the light? If so, I hope this devotional is a good guide on the way. If not, welcome to the darkness! Maybe these devotions can make this Advent a time of reflection for you in a way the season has not been before.


1 Comment to “Advent Devotional — Sunday, December 2”

  1. Andrew K. Henry on December 2nd, 2007 5:40 pm

    Psalm 80

    Where seekest thou for Heaven’s Face?
    Our Almighty God, dispenser of grace
    It’s hard to imagine Hime there on his throne
    Majestic and powerful , yes, but somehow alone
    How can He bear to hear the cries of those who are begging to be saved?
    From hunger,thirst, loneliness, even possibly the grave
    Why does He allow conquering armies to march?
    Leaving lands despoiled, bellies emptied, throats sore from parch
    Upon Moses, raised in Egypt, did He first depend
    When He had decided a great leader to send
    And although Moses acheived greatness by heeding God’s call
    There was still something lacking, a mission too small
    Man still did not listen and each went his own way
    Leading stern oppressor to rise and the weakest to pay
    There were still cries raised to Jehovah from those trapped below
    And they were often despairing, because justice was slow
    They begged to the Lord, swore they’d be faithful, yes, every one
    So God in his mercy, promised a Son

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