The words are quite clear, the Psalmist pleads with God:
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Advent is here, and this is the psalm we intone at the first Advent liturgy. Please, Lord, come to save us, make us turn to you – if we see your face, we shall be saved.
How much time do we spend trying to “get saved?” Or to “be saved?” Yet, it has happened already, God has come to save us. Haven’t we turned to God, haven’t we have seen the face of Christ both in birth and death? We have already been saved.
Or have we? Are we watching? Paying attention? Can we accept this news? And live with the gift that has already been given to us? Or do we want the gift, but feel unworthy to receive it? Maybe we can find a clue in our first reading from Isaiah, which poses an important question:
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
God does give us the gift of freedom, God never forces us to love, God never forces us to do anything. Which leads us back to us asking to see God’s face, hoping to be saved. Yet, how often do we see God’s face? In today’s Gospel could it be any more clear? Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert!”
We have the chance to see God’s face in many places, not just in church, not as we gaze at images of the Baby Jesus, or any other time that we think we might see God. God is everywhere? Are we being watchful and alert? We are told to be mindful at the start of Advent and at the end of Lent, I think that God is always very clear, but we often can’t take it all in, can we?
Perhaps we should hold the words from the psalm in our hearts as we begin Advent, asking to see God’s face, and accepting being saved by recognizing God’s face in the most unlikely places. To do this we must heed Jesus’ words and be watchful and alert. In these times of holiday stress, demanding jobs for some, the pressure of unemployment or underemployment for others, fear regarding the state of the world, or just our unrest, our anger, our despair and the endless itch of distraction, we are likely to miss the face of the One we seek.
Here is a little music to get you on your way as we begin Advent. Let us seek God’s face!