Restore us, O God of hosts, let your face sine, that we may be saved.
Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm 80:
Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉
Breath Prayer: I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often. Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise. This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine. Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.
Nicole Cardoza’s Guided Meditation For Anxiety
Try this short meditation, created by Yoga Foster and Reclamation Ventures founder Nicole Cardoza, the next time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious. Read in Yoga Journal.
Mr. Roger’s “Taking a breath” This one is short, but Mr. Roger’s voice is calming for me (and many Pittsburghers) and even his virtual presence can summon childhood memories of calmness and safety.
The title Shepherd appears in the Psalms only in psalms 23 and 80. The Psalmist of psalm 80 wants what the Psalmist of psalm 23 has, The Good Shepherd who leads, guides, and restores life. More than wants, the psalmist believes it is possible even when the circumstances would seem otherwise. Psalm 80 is a lament, but it is also a psalm of faith and hope. It is hope in God’s gracious willingness to repent (see v. 14) or turn or return to the work of bringing life to humanity. It is faith in God’s tender loving care that we have once received and we long for again.
In the midst of a pandemic, in advent, the people of God long for God to see what’s happening, to hear our cries, and most importantly to enter our lives anew to bring healing and restoration. We are waiting, hoping, and believing that God will return to lead, guide, and restore our lives.
Let us pray:
One way to think about breath prayer is that whatever is exhaled other people will inhale. So, sometimes we might inhale and exhale the same idea with the hope that what we receive from God, we can share with others. For example, you may imagine receiving God’s steadfast love while praying that others are receiving God’s steadfast love.
Another way to think about breath prayer is to pick something you would like to receive for your inhalation and something you would like to release for your exhalation. The idea is to keep it simple, so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale. That simple prayer could be something like this: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your guidence and release my stubbornness.
Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
Sources and notes:
“Shepherd is the title for God as king who leads, protects, and provides for his people… God of hosts, the title used in the refrain and elsewhere, is the name particularly associated with the ark” Mays p. 262
“Like the flock, the vine and vineyard represented a basic and familiar possession that was owned, cared for, and prized as a primary good of life. Here God is portrayed as the owner who secured the vine, planted it, and cleared space for its growth.” Mays p. 263
“The psalm’s parable introduces the anguish and bewilderment of the people over the contrast and contradiction between what God began and what he now has done, leaving it exposed for strangers to gather the fruit of the vine and for wild animals to ravage the vine (vv. 12-14). Mays p. 263
“The prayer concentrates with a single focus on one thing and one thing alone–the diving Thou. It addresses the God identified in the invocations as the actor in the congregation’s experience of salvation and suffering and seeks God’s resumption of his earlier work as the means of restoration. The psalm is a witness that the congregation must in the long last and in its extremity look away from its own repentance to a kind of repentance in God — his turning away from wrath and retuning to grace. The trust that God will in the end do so is based on nothing in the congregation. It is based on the self-understanding that the congregation is the work of God, there in existence, wholly and only as the act of God. Believing that, the congregation can hope that God will not abandon what he has begun.” Mays pp. 264-265
The title Shepherd appears in the Psalms only in psalms 23 and 80. “The contrast in the mood and situation of the speaker in this psalm with that of the speaker in Ps 23 is striking. The protection and restored life longed for in Ps 80 is a reality in Psalm 23: there the Shepherd “leads”, “restores”, life, and “guides” the speaker in safe paths. The verbs “lead and “guide” differ from those in Ps 80, but the meaning is the same. The speaker in Ps 23 has received what the speaker and the congregation in Ps 80 want.” WBC p. 316
“…because the people trusted God to transform their circumstances and restore them, this act of faith was also an act of hope” NIB p. 526
“The conviction that one confronts God in every circumstance, both good and bad, lies at the heart of the ancient Israelite prayers for help.” NIB p. 526
“Psalm 80 is traditionally associated with the season of Advent, the celebration of God’s coming presence. There is no better way to express belief in the reality of God’s sovereignty than to address God out of our individual and corporate afflictions and to continue looking to God as the only source of light and life. ” NIB p. 526
“Advent is a season of preparation and repentance, and lest we be tempted to focus on our own efforts in these matters, Psalm 80 proclaims that our lives ultimately depend on God’s gracious willingness to repent (see v. 14). So does the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What human repentance amounts to, at best, is turning to accept the loving embrace of ht eGod who gives us life. As Jesus indicated in his extension of he image of he vine, “apart from me you can to do nothing” (John15:5 NRSV; see also Phil 1:6).” NIB p. 526
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know. Nashville, TN: Abington Press.
Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.
I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom. Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C. Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others. Reflections exploring the Psalms in year D. While we were using Year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A. Now that we are rejoining those who use the lectionary, we are on Year B. This we hope will keep all of us planning and preparing worship on the same page.
I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections when I’m following the Revised Common Lectionary.