Serving as a guest minister in a congregation one Sunday, I closed the service with the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face to you and grant you peace” (ceb). As I spoke this benediction, I noticed one woman’s demeanor change as she heard the words. It did not surprise me when she came to greet me immediately after the service. This woman shared with me her memories of attending church youth meetings while growing up and how the group always ended their gatherings by saying together the blessing from Numbers 6. She had not been attending worship for over ten years. She came to worship on this particular Sunday because of her awareness of a sense of longing that made it difficult for her to feel joy and peace. She had sat through the service hoping that the words of the hymns, the prayers, or even the sermon might speak to her about the longing she felt. As the service came to a close, she thought she was going to leave disappointed. But those familiar words of benediction reminded her that God wanted to shine God’s face upon her.
In this lament from Psalm 80, the people cry to God to save them. Twice in this brief passage, the psalmist pleads for restoration, for God’s face to shine upon the people. In good times and bad times, the people turn to God. After addressing the sense of separation the people feel between themselves and God, the psalmist equates this turning of God’s face to the people with salvation.
Throughout this final week of Advent, remember that God desires to look graciously upon you.

Lord, shine the light of your face upon me. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 1:39-55

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Lectionary Week
December 17–23, 2018
Scripture Overview

As Christians we understand that our faith is rooted in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Micah celebrates this story, prophesying that the true king of Israel will one day come from the small village of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Luke features women prominently throughout his Gospel. The two readings from Luke this week highlight the prophetic insights of Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John, God’s messenger. After Elizabeth identifies Mary as the mother of the Lord, Mary breaks into song, understanding that her story is tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises going back to Abraham. Little does she know that her son will one day offer his body as a sacrifice for all, as Hebrews tells us.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Micah 5:2-5a. What “small” beginnings have yielded great results in your life?
• Read Psalm 80:1-7. How does this psalm of lament speak to you? When has God restored you and shone the light of divine love on you?
• Read Hebrews 10:5-10. What do you believe God desires from you? In what ways does Jesus’ life of obedience help you understand God’s intention for you and the world?
• Read Luke 1:39-55. When have you been stopped in your tracks by meeting unexpectedly an old acquaintance? How did God speak to you in that encounter?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.