Psalm 80: Advent Turns Us Toward God

The First Sunday of Advent
November 29,2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, an urgent call to a God from whom the psalmist has turned away.

How do we get to the point that we are turned away from God? And how do we correct that? Well, that’s what Advent is all about, and our psalm today gives us some hints about a remedy.


First: Disconnection 

Sometimes with God, as with any relationship, we simply get disconnected. It’s as if the the phone lines go down and we don’t bother to fix them.

We pray less – well, you know, because we’re busy, right?

We lose the “holy intention” in our lives to always be with God and for God, even in our choices and actions.

Advent helps us remember that such “holy intention” can only be charged by our connection to God. Advent turns us to call that Power into our lives.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.


Second: Confusion 

Other times, we are confused about our soul’s intimate relationship with God. We haven’t forgotten it. Actually, we work very hard to be what we think God wants. We, like a satisfied Pharisee, think our “holiness” is the fruit of our own efforts. But our life in God withers, like a once beautiful plant that languishes, overwatered and scorched. For all our efforts, our souls feel empty.

Advent helps us realize that it is God who enlivens the vine and gives the blossom, not us. Advent turns us to a humble, hopeful waiting for grace as God desires to give it.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.


Third: Withdrawal 

Our psalm recognizes that, at times, we withdraw from God. Perhaps we tire of working at our spiritual life. Or we weary when our works of mercy go unappreciated. Or we fail to find God’s Presence in a prayer that seems unanswered.

Advent helps us see that God is never the one who withdraws from the work of love. We do.

Advent turns us to new life by the simple calling of the Name that never fails to answer.

May your help be with the creature of your right hand,
with the beloved whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

As we begin this Advent journey
that can so deepen us in grace and love,
let us humbly place in God’s hands
anything in our lives that needs “turning”.

Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and we shall be saved.


Poetry: Tagore – THE INFINITY OF YOUR LOVE

Stand before my eyes, 
and let Your glance touch my songs into a flame.

Stand among Your stars, 
and let me find kindled in their lights my own fire of worship.

The earth is waiting at the world’s wayside.
Stand upon the green mantle she has flung upon Your path, 
and let me in her grass and meadow flowers spread my own salutation.

Stand in my lonely evening where my heart watches alone; 
fill her cup of solitude, 
and let me turn my heart toward the infinity of Your love.

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me

Psalm 80: Restore Us!

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 9, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, a powerful song poem written by a desperate and suffering poet.

Psalm 80 seems to have been written as a plea for deliverance of the northern kingdom of Israel just before the Assyrian armies conquered it. The psalmist pleads with God to remember God’s earlier kindness and to restore Israel’s wholeness.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see:
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted,
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.


When I read this psalm, I hear something like the plea of a confused child, asking a parent: 

  • What happened to upset things? 
  • I thought you loved me? 
  • Why am I so afraid now? 
  • Why are you so unconcerned about my fear?
  • Please remember and give me back your love and blessings.
  • Please make things all right again.

It is a prayer not unlike my own in this time of pandemic, profound loss, and moral confusion. There is so much to be mourned in these painful times, and yet so much to be learned. This video, shared with me by a dear Franciscan friend, captures both the mourning and the hope within these past months:


As we experience the continued spread of COVID 19, coupled with confused leadership and astounding popular ignorance, a plea like the psalmist’s might arise in our own hearts.

Much about our lives on and with the Earth has been broken. Let us pray from our brokenness today. May Creation be restored to its sacred vitality. May our human family be renewed with transformed integrity and reverence for Creation and for one another.


Poetry: I Am the Vine – Malcolm Guite

How might it feel to be part of the vine?
Not just to see the vineyard from afar
Or even pluck the clusters, press the wine,
But to be grafted in, to feel the stir
Of inward sap that rises from our root,
Himself deep planted in the ground of Love,
To feel a leaf unfold a tender shoot,
As tendrils curled unfurl, as branches give
A little to the swelling of the grape,
In gradual perfection, round and full,
To bear within oneself the joy and hope
Of God’s good vintage, till it’s ripe and whole.
What might it mean to bide and to abide
In such rich love as makes the poor heart glad?


Music: You Are the Vine- Divine Hymns