Fourth Sunday of Advent
Week of: December 22, 2019
Scripture: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved. ... Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.
(Psalm 80:3, 18, NRSV)
Light four candles — you may need them!
This fourth week of Advent is often the darkest time before the light of Christmas and certainly can be the most stressful for worship leaders in the church. There are few expectations and demands put on us like the ones surrounding the Christmas season. It can be easy to find life overwhelming, to say the least.
These days can feel as though darkness has surrounded us: the colder weather, high demands, lack of funds, world chaos both in and beyond our borders. All of this can seem unfixable. It can seem as though our prayers go unheard. There is much to make us feel as though we've been given bitter tears to drink, yet we light our candles and wait.
It's not hard to find the darkness. It's always there just under the surface of all the commercial and media hype, buried behind human masks pretending that all is OK. This is the very loneliness, isolation, depression and devastation that Emmanuel comes to heal. Psalm 80 presents us with our real and specific need for God's salvation.
As worship leaders we must be mindful of this darkness; there are a lot of people in our communities that are even more left out and hungry during this time of year.
In worship we proclaim the alternate reality of a God whose well-lit world is life-giving! And as disciples of Jesus Christ — the one who came to bring us the Light — we know our call is to shine that light into even the gloomiest corners.
We plead for restoration, for God's face to shine in our darkness and come as one of us. May we welcome the divine Light that brings holy restoration, that all may be one in God's love.
Director of Music, Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church, Raytown, MO
Artist in Residence, Community Christian Church, Kansas City, MO