Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
I used to love making fun of my pastors who complained about how much busier they became during advent. It’s not as if they had more on their plates than any other month during the year, but they nevertheless felt overwhelmed by this particular liturgical season.
I now regret making jokes at their expense.
I’m not sure how its possible, because we are not doing more than the ordinary during this time, but I am busier than I have been since I started working at St. John’s in June. I like to think that my newfound busyness stems from the different holiday concerts and Christmas pageants or the shifts for selling Christmas trees or the added time spent decorating the house… but I think it really comes from somewhere else.
This season carries with it tremendous joy but also remarkable sadness. Advent helps to prepare us for the coming of the Lord, but often times we fail to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of emotions and old memories that are triggered by this time of anticipation. In the last few weeks I have noticed more tears and tissues in the pews that are the result of the welling up of suppressed emotions that this season breaks forth. For as much as we can be excited about opening gifts together under the tree with a fire roaring in the fire place, for many of us Christmas embodies tremendous pain that is often difficult to ignore.
At the end of the 80th psalm, the psalmist writes, “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” I believe that this psalm is one that we need during this season, perhaps more than any other. We need to feel restored in our lives during this time when old and difficult memories flood our perspective. We need to be reminded of God’s glory that outshines all of the darkness in our lives. We need to sing those familiar hymns, let the tears flow, and remember that God came in the form of our brokenness to dwell and walk with us.
So, as we all make it through this last week of advent, preparing for the great coming of our Lord on Christmas, let us all take the time to live into the brokenness in our lives. Do not ignore the pain that this season often brings. Let it be. But remember that it does not have the final word. God has triumphantly declared that He will make all things new, that we are not defined by our pasts, but instead by the love that God has for each and every single one of us.