December 17, 2023
Thank you, Lord, for this psalm. On this third Sunday of Advent, as we focus on joy, we’re glad this psalm is full of joy—joy experienced in the past, joy anticipated in the future. We praise you for the amazing and wonderful restorings that you have brought about for your people. Truly you have done great things. You restored your Old Testament people when you brought them out of Egypt and again when you brought them back from exile in Babylon. Today we look back at that greatest of all restorations: your restoring us sinners to yourself through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus. What a restoring of our fortunes that was: you brought us back from captivity to sin, condemnation, death, and the devil. What joy you have brought us as a result. Like your people of old, our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues with shouts of gladness. Our Christmas carols capture that joy, and we want to sing heartily this Advent season of the great things you have done.
We are also grateful, Lord, that this psalm mixes sorrow with that joy. It speaks of tears and of weeping. It longs for another restoration needed, one like the past. Its heart cry is “Restore anew, O Lord!” That too is our heart cry today. Some among our church family are in a season—maybe shorter, maybe longer—of tears, of weeping. For some this Advent Sunday of joy is hard to embrace because of sorrow and pain. We pray for one another, Lord. We pray for our sisters and brothers who are in tears. O Lord, we also pray this morning for our sister congregation, Cornerstone Free Church, in Pipestone, MN, whose youth pastor, Ryan, on Friday died suddenly and unexpectedly. We pray for his wife Theresa and their three girls; for the congregation; for neighboring congregations who are assisting. Lord Jesus, man of sorrows, have mercy. God who restores your people, have mercy.
We wish, Lord, for a restoring from you that comes swiftly and abundantly, like the torrents of water that this psalm speaks of—arid ravines suddenly flooded with rain runoff. But we know that your restoration does not arrive till after a season that is like sowing seed in a field. So we pray that, in a season of weeping, whether that’s present or future, we would patiently sow seed, as it were. May we persevere amid tears, confidently and expectantly looking ahead to a time of joyful reaping, a time of returning with bundles of grain and a shout of joy. We live between two restorings—between Christ’s first advent and his second advent, when he will truly restore all things. In this in-between time, may we weep freely when needed. May we stand on your past restoring, may we long for your future restoring, and may we keep walking through the furrows of the field. Thank you, Lord, that in this psalm, joyful harvest has the last word.
We pray for our global partners in different parts of the world. In this Advent season renew their joy, even if it is presently in a time of weeping and tears. We pray for the unreached peoples of the world, that sorrow and bondage would not be the last word in their lives. Bring to them to joy of Jesus. Send to them laborers with the good news of Jesus.
We pray for unbelievers who are near to our lives. May our joy catch their attention. May we freely and effectively share that joy with them. We ask for your unique work in their hearts and minds, turning them to Jesus the Messiah for life and light.
We pray for the young generation in our church family, the children and youth who are growing up so quickly. Form in them the worldview of today’s psalm. Give them your perspective on history, on life, on tears and joy. May they trust in Jesus from an early age.
It is in the name of Jesus that we pray. And all the congregation said, “Amen.”