An Advent Journey, 2013: Looking for the Light – Day Twenty


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 neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Psalm 80:1-7-NRSV

I believe this is the cri de coeur of every human who has ever walked this planet, even those who will deny it up one side and down the other.

Some of us are able to silence this cry when it rises; some are able to argue it away, at least in their conscious minds. But I think it’s still in there somewhere — this cell-deep desire to be saved, rescued, made whole, energized, sanctified. Whatever kind of language you might choose to use, the issue is the same.

Shine on us, O God. Rescue us.

I love that this psalm references the ‘face’ of God. The face, the visage, that which we see when we greet one another, that space within which can reside smile or frown, delight or dismay, joy or judgment. It’s that Face that we want to shine, to radiate, in our direction.

That phrase, and all that it means, is one reason why I love and use the Aaronic blessing so often. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

I prayed that blessing over my aunt as she lay dying last month; I offer it when I wrap my arms around another and ask for help from God for their dilemma, whatever it might be; I pray it over my husband and my children and my grandchildren, my mother and my friends; and I pray it over myself from time to time, too. 

I pray it for all of us, this 20th day of our journey together. May we each pray these words more fully as Christmas draws nigh.

“Let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

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  1. I love this blessing – it was prayed over my husband and I at our wedding.

  2. This afternoon, I popped into the church to pray. Just since yesterday, they’d begun to put up the Christmas stuff. It felt like I was seeing the face of God.

  3. Lori Coleman says

    Thank you for inspiring me to memorize the Aaronic blessing.