Seeker: “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!”
Preacher: Translation – we have messed up once again and are hoping we can be rescued from our ineptitude and foolishness.
Seeker: “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”
Preacher: Translation – we are really quite sad about this, and not just a little desperate.
Seeker: “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.”
Preacher: Translation – Come on, Yahweh! Pay positive and restoring attention to us. These days and months have been really depressing. And the other nations are starting to make fun of us.
Seeker: “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:1 – 7)
Preacher: I hear you chuckling over there Seeker. For the ancient called and chosen people it was not a laughing matter. But I understand the amusement. They are like children who have gone astray and then call for help expecting rescue right away. They learned the Divine does not quite act as quickly as they would like.
Seeker: I know, Preacher, from their perspective they were in quite a fix. But it is amusing the way you put a spin on it. Your “translation” is not quite what one would expect from a plea and petition during the opening days of Advent. I like it though.
Preacher: “But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.”
Seeker: From studies I have learned this does not necessarily refer to the Messiah but to a man who is a leader of ability and strength. Maybe someone the ancient called and chosen people thought would restore their fortunes. What was amusing is now sad, because the depth of their problems (as it turned out) could only be remedied by the Messiah. We too, modern called and chosen people, think that our situation can be reversed by the correct human leader or celebrity. Yes, we have have good fortune and good luck, come into a time of peace and prosperity. And at Advent and Christmas see celebration and decoration rise up to mask our sadness and fear. What we find, or at least what I hope we find, is that the infant Jesus grown to manhood will be the true and lasting solution.
Preacher: “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.” (Verses 17 – 19)
Seeker: It had to be restoration on their terms, didn’t it? Jesus the Christ who was revealed as the Messiah did not fit their specifications. The season of Advent (and Christmas) only means something because we know whose birth we are celebrating and why it is worthy of celebration. There is a sadness too, that Christmas with all its fa-la-la and deck the halls is empty without the realization that is it Christ finally coming that we are celebrating. We wait for the coming of Christmas, but we must remember why we are waiting.
Preacher: Shalom & Selah, Seeker. Shalom & Selah!