Day 2 – Monday, December 4, 2023

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!

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

O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!

But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:1–7, 17–19

I recently learned about the concept of “Yes, and” from my Hope College students who’ve been part of Vanderprov, Hope’s improv comedy troupe.

In improv comedy, one of the rules is to take a given idea, context, or scenario and expand on it instead of shutting it down. For example, if one improviser on stage says, “I have so much grading to do before the Christmas holidays,” the second improviser could say, “Yes, and don’t forget about working on your syllabus for next semester.” Through collaboration and creativity, this “Yes, and” rule acknowledges the present reality, and adds to it, moving the scene forward.

When I think about Advent and today’s passage, this “Yes, and” concept comes to mind.

Psalm 80 is a psalm of lament and speaks to the longing of God’s people for restoration and redemption.

The psalmist begins with a cry for God to “give ear” and save His people. In what follows, the psalmist questions God, and even expresses anger towards God. God seems to be silent, hiding in the darkess, unaware of what is happening to His people.

Advent is a time of “Yes” to this earnest longing for God to save His people and to these honest cries for restoration and redemption. In our own difficult life situations and unanswered prayers, we connect with the psalmist’s words. We also lament the darkness around us and have times when we doubt God and question His work in our lives.

But Advent is also a time for the “And.”

The psalmist expresses doubt and anger within a context of trust and hope.

Psalm 80 does not end with lament and agony. Rather, the psalmist calls on God to “let your face shine, that we may be saved!” In this, lament and agony are placed within a larger context of trust and hope. The doubt and anger toward God isn’t resolved or explained away but it is expressed to a loving God who hears us, walks alongside side of us in the darkness, and who is able to provide restoration and redemption.

Yes, and.

In Christ we find our hope and salvation. Whatever longing, disappointment, confusion, or worry we are experiencing, may Advent remind us of what we know and believe to be true. In Christ we find our hope and salvation.

In Advent, we can be honest with God about whatever longing, disappointments, confusion or worries we have. And, we can also celebrate what we believe to be true — that in Christ we will find our hope and salvation. The light is coming.

Dr. Deborah Van Duinen is the Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Professor of Education at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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