Restorative Love


December 14, 2016

By SaraJane Munshower.

A reflection by the Rev. Sara Jane Munshower.
 

Scripture: Psalm 80 (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.
 
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
   you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
   it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
   the mighty cedars with its branches;
it sent out its branches to the sea,
   and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls,
   so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
The boar from the forest ravages it,
   and all that move in the field feed on it.
 
 
Turn again, O God of hosts;
   look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
   the stock that your right hand planted.
They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
   may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.
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.
 

Reflection:

                 
Somehow, we are approaching this Fourth Sunday of Advent.  We have lit the candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy. As I sit to write this reflection it is just one week post-election.  For myself, and for many, these Advent words may seem like theological constructs. Still we hold them as truths that our hearts are aching to receive.  No doubt much will have changed between this writing and your reading.  What will not have changed is the enduring gift of the Word of God in scripture. These ancient words ring loudly true for the millions of people across the earth who lament this nation’s new administration.  The psalm invites us all to forego our personal strife and to hear the depth of pain around us. It also invites us into God’s light, and into a life of restoration.
 
We may no longer believe in a god who controls events such as elections, wars, and famines. Still, we believe in God’s listening Presence and the power of prayer. We believe in the Mystery into which our prayers fall and from which we are more than ‘saved.’ From within that Mystery we are comforted, encouraged, and emboldened. This is why we will light the candle of Love. This is why we will celebrate once again the gift of God with us.
 

Prayer:

 
Hear now the chosen verses of Psalm 80 as offered by Nan C. Merrill in Psalms for Praying…
 
Eternal Listener, give heed to your people,
You, who are our Guide and our Light!
You, who dwell amidst the angels,
shine forth into the heart of all nations!
Enliven your people with compassion that peace and justice might flourish.
Restore us, O Holy One;
let your face shine upon us,
teach us to love!
 
Gentle Teacher, help us to turn to you in prayer,
fasting from negative thoughts.
In your steadfast love,
You weep with our tears,
tears that rise from fear, doubt, and illusion.
You uphold us when we feel the sting of pride,
when our anxiety threatens to paralyze us.
 
May those who have borne the fruit of love
radiate your Spirit into the world!
Ma we always walk and co-create with You;
receive the gratitude of our hearts,
as we share in the Great Plan!
Restore us, O Holy One!
Let your face shine upon us,
teach us to love.   Amen.
 
The Rev. Sara Jane Munshower is a retired UCC minister.
 

Spirited Wednesday: December 14, 2016 , by SaraJane Munshower.