The Eve of Preparation
Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. – Psalm 80:7 (NRSV)
“Let your face shine, that we may be saved.” What a great line for the Eve of Advent. The ancient psalmist reminds what we truly need—and what we’re waiting for—in these weeks leading to Christ’s birth. Be our Shepherd. Give ear to our prayers. Restore us. Shine your face upon us in these shadowed days. Be strong for us and save us.
Since September, the world around us has proclaimed what we need to prepare for Christ’s birth: The perfect decorations for the perfect tree. The perfect presents for our perfect children. And, if you watch the Hallmark Channel, the perfect relationship with the perfect partner.
In contrast, today’s psalm starts in imperfection, with a broken people in a broken world. It sings a lament, no fa-la-la. “We are the scorn of our neighbors,” the people cry. “Our enemies laugh among themselves.”
But the psalm also affirms the people’s understanding of what they truly need: to mend their relationship with God and one another, to turn again to God’s light. They pray for hope and guidance. They pray to be restored. They pray for a future. “Give us life,” they pray.
Tomorrow we start Advent’s four weeks of preparation. May the ancient psalm remind us and our world what we’re waiting for and how to get ready. Come, o come, Emmanuel.
Shepherd of all, on the Eve of Advent, we pray as your Psalmist prayed, “Stir up your power and save us.” Save us with your hope. Save us with your light. Save us with your presence. And may our Advent journey lead us to find that hope, light, and presence born anew in Bethlehem’s stable once again. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.