Saturday of the second week in Advent

Ecclesiasticus 48.1-4, 9-12; Psalm 79. 2-3, 15-16, 18-19 (LXX); Matthew 17.10-13

O God, restore us,
And cause thy face to shine upon us,
and we will be saved.
Even the shoot which Thy right hand has planted,
And on the son whom Thou hast strengthened for Thyself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance.
Let Thy hand by upon the man of Thy right hand,
Upon the son of man whom Thou didst make strong for thyself.
Then we shall not turn back from Thee;
Revive us, and we will call upon Thy name.
O Lord God of hosts, restore us,
Cause Thy face to shine upon us,
and we will be saved. (Psalm 79.3, 15-19)
. . .
This is the story of God’s relationship with his people: God raises up his people, and God’s people wander. Far from God, we struggle to see God’s face, and we experience God’s rebuke. But there is nowhere to go except back to God, who alone can revive us, who alone can restore us to light and life. Interesting that the reviving here precedes the ‘call[ing] upon Thy name’: we do not even have the strength to cry out to God without God’s help. Truly, ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought’ without the Spirit of God who moves us to pray.
And it is the story of God’s relationship with individuals, too, at least with this one. God calls, and I hide. God’s love pursues me, and I turn away. Truly, I do not know how to pray as I ought: I pray for the wrong things, and my will is mortally corrupt. I cannot call upon the name of the Lord without the Lord’s own strength, without being moved by the Spirit, without having my will broken. I cannot but ask the Lord to take this cup from me; yet I cannot insist on my own will.
I have strayed far from the text. I do not know what to say, except:
O God, restore us,
And cause thy face to shine upon us,
and we will be saved.
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