Turn your face
Psalm 80: 7-15
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches;
11 it sent out its branches to the sea,
and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
and all that move in the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, O God of hosts;
look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15 the stock that your right hand planted.
David is one of my heroes in the Bible, not because he cuts off giants’ heads and stuff like that but because he is so completely human. David is not a paragon of virtue - he does some pretty awful stuff by anyone’s standards - yet his life is one of searching for God and letting loose with brutal and passionate honesty.
This psalm is one of those. David doesn’t shirk from acknowledging that all is not rosy in the garden and he pleads with God to turn back to his people. You can hear David’s agony in every word.
David’s situation was not that different to ours. Every survey suggests fewer and fewer of us care about God any more and it’s easy to subscribe to the narrative that says the church will die out in a generation or two as religion gets consigned to history.
But that’s not the narrative I see in the Bible. That’s not the experience I have of living and working with God’s people. What I see is a depth of faith and vibrancy of experience that is moving away from ritual and form and into a life of genuine love and service. People who say that the church doesn’t matter any more are missing the real point. Every act, every prayer, every song of praise, by every Christian, in every place, every day is changing for the better the lives of everyone who is touched by their actions.
God, our father, creator and friend, do not be slow to bring your kingdom in. We long to know you better, to see you more clearly and to love you more deeply. Fill us with your spirit so that we may be the people you made us to be. Let us be salt and light in our communities and praise you and serve you forever, Amen.