The community of Psalm 80 laments its losses while expressing its hope in the restorative power of God. This Advent, a small lectio divina community here in Raleigh, North Carolina, has that same hope.
Madeleine has been part of our lectio divina group since it began over ten years ago. For the past several years she has been slipping ever deeper into Alzheimer’s. When Madeleine was diagnosed, we covenanted to journey with her through this illness. Although her capacities continually diminish, her faith does not. In fact, for the past few months, whenever she has spoken, she has said, “I am from Switzerland. I love the Lord. That’s it.”
For those two facts to be what remains is remarkable. She remembers an identity, and she remembers that she loves God. Psalm 80 preserves the same memories: identity and steadfast love of God.
A vine remains—a remnant people—broken, bruised, and fed with the bread of tears. They call on the Lord of Jacob for restoration. Alongside their lament comes a deep, unforgotten trust that is woven into their being. Even in their suffering, they remember. The One who sits at the right hand of God is strong and will save them. The people will never turn away; they will always turn to God.
God’s steadfast love, which we know through Jesus the Christ, is imprinted on Madeleine. This memory is almost all that remains. Her face reflects the shining face of glory revealed in the Christ child, which remains bright even as all else is forgotten. Even as life fades, even as the vine withers, we will never turn back from you, O God. Give us life as we call on your name.
O Christ child, be born again in all of us. Whisper to us a love that restores and heals. Amen.
Isaiah is sent to the king of Judah to declare a prophecy of a future birth through a virgin. The boy will be called Immanuel, “God is with us.” The psalmist cries out to God asking for an end to the suffering of the people. He believes that this will occur through a “son of man,” an expression that Jesus later uses to describe himself. Paul’s opening to Romans roots the gospel in the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus comes from the line of David and fulfills the things foretold. To understand Jesus, we must understand the Hebrew scriptures. Matthew recounts the visitation of an angel to Joseph to tell him of the coming birth of a son. Matthew interprets this birth as a fulfillment of this week’s reading from Isaiah 7.
Read Isaiah 7:10-16. How does Isaiah’s prophecy continue to speak to you today? How do you hope for Christ’s coming?
Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. Recall a time when you have relied on hope for God’s restoration.
Read Romans 1:1-7. What would it mean to add “servanthood” to your list of life goals?
Read Matthew 1:18-25. How is your life different for having listened to God’s call?
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.