Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our Psalm for Christmas Dawn speaks to the sorrow which is common to all of us at times. Especially in Psalm 80:4-7 we are invited to join in the lament. We have prayed and God doesn't seem to be answering. We have bread of tears and we drink tears also. Why is it that things seem so bad so frequently?
The Psalmist doesn't answer that question. We could certainly make a theological statement about the fallen condition of the world or we could observe that the presence of some good in the world speaks of God's mercy. That would be fine, but the Psalm doesn't go there.
I'm not going there either. What response does the Psalmist have? What is the response of the Christian?
We pray that the Lord would come. We pray that he would restore us, that his face would shine on us.
God's people are going to be mocked, scorned, characterized as fools or power hungry bigots. You name it, the accusations are out there. Sometimes the accusations are even accurate, at least about individuals and even significant groups. We are an object of contention and derision.
Again, we could fight back. On some levels we should, especially by giving the many good reasons to trust in Christ. Much of my career has been spent demonstrating that there is no incompatibility between Christian beliefs and serious academic inquiry.
Is that convincing? To some, it is. But above all else, the facts of the Incarnation, life and work of Jesus, and his death, burial, and resurrection are what convinces.
In the time of Christmas, then, and at all other times, we proclaim the fact that God has come to reconcile the world to himself. With the Psalmist, then, we pray he would come to us.
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