Friday (December 17, 2021)

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:3)

This verse from Psalm 8 is a refrain. Throughout the Psalm it is a repeated petition. It is the chorus to a song amid the many verses. It is a constant plea by the Psalmist for God to come and restore both himself and his people, Israel. 

We all have refrains in our life, those we speak out loud and those that we say in the silence of our hearts. They are many and varied. We have our go-to lines when we are frustrated. We have the lines of love and affection we repeat to those closest to us. We have the sayings or verses of scripture that we’ve committed to memory and that we use in times of joy or lament. We have jokes that we like to repeat at parties. 

At church we also have our refrains. And whereas in most of our lives we say, scream, cry, or mutter our refrains by ourselves and sometimes to ourselves, at church we say our refrains together. There is power in this. It is one thing to pray, “Let your face shine on me.” If God did this, it would look like a tiny birthday candle in a sea of darkness. It is another thing to pray, “Let your face shine on us.” This is what the Psalmist prays. And the answer to this prayer is not a single candle but a spotlight, a bonfire, a sea of light from candles on Christmas Eve. You cannot stay warm from a single candle, but together with all of our lights, we can feel an intense warmth and light a whole room. 

This advent, listen to the refrains we say and sing. Come Lord Jesus. Shine on us. Restore us. Come, O Come Emmanuel. Let my soul proclaim the greatness of the Lord. And remember that this is not your refrain or mine alone. But the whole church and all of creation, cry out with us, so that we all might be restored and saved. 

Let us pray: O God, even when I feel alone, I know that you are with me. And through your love you connect me with all the faithful. Hear my prayer; listen to my refrains this Advent and forevermore. Amen

Peace in Christ,

Pr. Daniel Joyner Miller