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Lent Readings

Readings Begin February 18

Daily Lent Readings

"He is risen, indeed!" Lent has passed but that doesn't mean the daily readings have to go away. Some of you might be discovering this page for the first time. Others who participated during Lent might find it helpful to revisit a particular reading. For these reasons, we will leave this page up for a while.
We pray that you experience the wonder of interacting with our Savior in a personal, transformative way!
All the readings are also available via podcast on Apple or Spotify. Click here for more information.
"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 9

Let Your Face Shine!

Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 80:3-7, 14-19
Restore us, O God;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved!
O LORD God of hosts,
   how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
   and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
   and our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. . . . 
Turn again, O God of hosts!
   Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
   the stock that your right hand planted,
   and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
   may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
   the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
   give us life, and we will call upon your name!
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
  Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
What Is This Psalm About?
Psalm 80 expresses the dismay of God’s people during a time of national disaster. The psalm does not specify the exact event, but it could refer to the Assyrian invasion of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. Or perhaps the psalm recounts the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC when the Babylonians  
burned the sacred temple and deported the Israelites to Babylon for seventy years of indentured service. 
The people understood these calamities as acts of judgment by the LORD against the unbelief, idolatry and injustice among his people. The prophets had warned Israel for years to repent. Now, when destruction and oppression have overtaken everyone, the people cry out for the LORD to turn back to his chosen. They plead for God to relent in his just anger and stretch forth a saving hand of mercy. 
The refrain of this song echoes Aaron’s famous blessing from Numbers 6:24-26:
“Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
The people longed for the days when they basked in the shining pleasure of the God who was a father to his son, his nation, his chosen, Israel. They longed to be again the fruitful vine the LORD once planted and protected. 
So they cried out, “Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” They turned back to the LORD and begged him to turn back to them. Such mercy, they promised, would keep them from turning away again.
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
The people of the LORD in Jesus’ day languished under foreign oppression similar to when this psalm was written. Roman soldiers patrolled their streets. Faithful Hebrews hung for days from crosses for crimes against the state, reminding people who ruled the world. Taxes impoverished hard-working tradesmen. Romans ridiculed the worship of Yahweh as a delusional allegiance to a weak god. Once enslaved in Egypt, once exiled to Babylon, the Jews in their own land now again feel in bondage. Had God forgotten them? Might he shine the favor of his presence upon his chosen once again?
I envision Jesus hearing this psalm sung out in a Sabbath worship. His heart stirs along with the hearts of his people. He feels the weight of their lives. He laments those who suffered at the hands of the Romans. Jesus grows restless with them for the arrival of the Messiah to restore them. He sings loudly with the congregation, “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” His soul joins the worshippers in longing, “See us. Hear us! Give us life!” He is the true vine (John 15:1), fruitful and faithful as Israel was meant to be. He wants to graft the weary and the barren onto himself.
I know Jesus delights in the deeper significance of the prayer: “But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself.” The LORD had called Israel his “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22). He had also designated David and the kings who followed him to be his sons (2 Samuel 7:14). But the Spirit had also revealed to the prophet Daniel the vision of “one like a son of man” to whom the LORD gave an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14).
Jesus knows as he raises this song that he is its truest meaning. Jesus is the eternal Son of God who came to us as the Son of Man. He is the LORD’s face shining in love upon his people. He will regard the people in their plight, truly seeing them. Then he will act with compassion like the sun breaking through clouds bringing relief and hope. 
Paul writes, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus is the glory of God shining through a human face. He is God looking upon us in favor. In answer to the very psalm Jesus prays with his people, Jesus turns to us in steadfast love. He restores us. As his mother prayed shortly after his conception, “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy” (Luke 1:54). For Jesus fully embodies his role as “the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself.” He gives us life, just as he has prayed alongside a languishing nation. Jesus himself is Aaron’s blessing incarnate!
Praying with Jesus
I cast my gaze earthward.
The weight of life pushes it down.
I don’t want to look up and see the mess
Of my life’s pain or the world’s agony.
Too much confusion,
Too much suffering in the world.
But then I feel your gentle strong hand
Under my chin, lifting my face.
“Look up! Look at me!”
I see you smiling.
Not naively.
You know all.
But you have accounted for all,
Paid for it and forgiven it.
Your face radiates
Acceptance. Calling. Mission.
You shine upon me 
Until I glow with your favor.
Now I go forth to see,
To shine, to bless
That all may know,
You have not forsaken us.
You have seen and saved. 


Posted in: Lent