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Scripture Text (NRSV)


Psalm 80:1-7


80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

80:2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!

80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

80:4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?

80:5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.

80:6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.

80:7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.




Psalm 80:4 "O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?

This is not exactly uplifting stuff for the Sunday before Christmas. Few people are commenting on this psalm, probably for that reason. It isn't very joyful and everyone wants to be joyful.

Last night our church had a Blue Christmas service -- a service for people who are blue in the midst of Christmas merriment. Even those who are blue do not want to hear today that God is angry with them.

Who puts these lections together? I know the answer but sometimes I wonder what they were thinking.

Rev Helen in Ontario

I've never been hung up on sticking with a "predestined" text . . . sure we need to be challenged to seek the Holy spirit’s guidance in finding God's message for us, BUT I'm not quite ready to believe that someone(s) are able to prophesy what's gonna be appropriate in every church world-wide! It simply does NOT work that way! I "try" to incorporate texts in my messages, but won't sacrifice unreasonably just to say I stuck with the prescribed text! I believe Jesus taught in the context of his surroundings, calling upon texts as appropriate for the situation. So to I believe that we should take into account what's happening in our congregations and then prepare and proclaim accordingly. Have I ruffled any feathers yet . . . or do we all more or less feel similarly?

Bruce .... no ruffled feathers, but a different take...

One of the beauties of the Lectionary is that it insures that our people hear and consider a broad selection of Scripture (indeed, nearly all of Holy Writ if it is followed faithfully for three years and all lessons and Psalms are used). It prevents a pastor from picking his/her favorite selections and failing to expose God's People to the rest of the Bible.

Another is that it challenges pastors to exegete all that Scripture. I don't believe (as you said) that the Lectionary editors predicted what was going to appropriate everywhere in every parish on every Sunday. On the other hand, I believe that the whole of Scripture speaks to us in every situation and our challenge as the on-site theologians is to preach that. So rather than "take into account" what is happening in the congregation and change the readings -- why not "take into account" what is happening in the readings and apply that to what is happening in the parish?

That is why and how I try to stick with the Lectionary texts.

Blessings, Eric in KS

By the way ....

The RCL specifies that three more verses are to be used from this Psalm -- vv. 17-19 (or in the Episcopal BCP versification 16-18). They repeat, once more, the refrain:

"Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved."

This is the word of hope to be preached from this Psalm -- focus not on the anger of God, but on the promise of God's shining face and salvation, a promise realized in the birth of the Messiah which we will celebrate soon.

Blessings, Eric in KS