17 Let your hand be with the one on your right side—
with the one whom you secured as your own—
18 then we will not turn away from you!
Revive us so that we can call on your name.
19 Restore us, Lord God of heavenly forces!
Make your face shine so that we can be saved!
Yesterday, we looked at the beginning of this Psalm and the way it could be the lyrics to a Christmas Carole if we wanted it to be. Today, we skip to the end of the Psalm, where the Psalmist asks God to be with “the one on your right side” so that we will turn towards Gods and God towards us, and all will be restored. Look to the section of this Psalm that was skipped between the two texts (verses 8 through 16). It speaks to the earlier parts of the Old Testament, and questions the violence of the world, then brings us to today’s text. From our Christian lens, looking at this text which is part of this week’s lectionary (a selected biblical text used globally for a certain week during the year), we read it from a place of seeing this as a plea for the Messiah, for Christ to be born into the world to save us.
I particularly like the last line about God making God’s face shine. It almost makes me chuckle of how far God really took that – in having an actually human face available to humanity that cried and smiled and spoke. Generally, how the Gospels presents it, Jesus had a very average face – nothing striking or “shiny”. Jesus often had to be identified by others because his face didn’t stand out in any sort of way. I find this peculiar to think about, but also humbling. We want to think about and present God/Jesus as standing out, of the divine being visible – but God’s face “shining” was through ministry, through compassion, through connection.
We tend to think of all babies as “cute”, and maybe baby Jesus’ face was just that of another cute baby. But to Mary, it probably already shined – the rest of us just needed to catch up.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What ways is God’s facing shining at you this Christmas season
Prayer: Lord of all, we give thanks for the wild and creative and daring way You allowed Your face to shine in this world. We give thanks this day. Amen.