Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. Psalms 80:3 (NLT)
The Psalmist saw Israel in shades of gloomy gray! Psalm 80 is part of a corporate lament expressing the grief and sorrow connected with defeat and exile. Israel is pictured as God’s vineyard, broken-down and left in ruins. (Seems perfect for a Monday, eh?)
The choices for Israel were all scary (aren’t they always that way when you’re not in control?):
1. They could accept their captive status and live the life of slaves…forever defeated and entirely unlike beings created in the image of God.
2. They could deny anything has happened and live in memory of greater days…forever a caricature of the conquering children of God. (This is the Emperor’s New Clothes option – confident in their minds that the good days are on the way back, but, in reality, impotent and naked before the world.)
3. A final scary option: totally abandon themselves to God’s choices for their future by confessing their sin and humbly waiting for God’s strength to revive and/or restore them to what He wanted.
God’s people of the exiles were corrupted spiritually long before their political captivity began. It’s no small leap to figure out that, to reverse the process, first a spiritual healing would have to take place; then (if God approved) a political revival could begin.
In conversation yesterday (Sunday) with a church member we discussed the lament of today’s church. With something like 4 of every 5 churches in America rated as either declining in membership, or simply “just holding-on” there is plenty of wailing to be done.
In the United Methodist Church the term “revitalization” is the current watchword. Bishops and other leaders proscribe “indicators” of what a revitalized church (local and global) will look like. Like captive Israel of old, revitalizing – claiming our spiritual heritage and strength is something of an “Emperor’s New Clothes” issue, because re-vitalized presupposes anyone really knows what vital looks like. For a denomination that’s been in decline for half a century, that’s a sobering thought.
Is there any GOOD news?
There’s always good news. And whenever it takes hold, this Good News (Gospel) is a fresh wind of revival. But it’s always on God’s terms
“Turn us again to yourself, O God.”
Throughout the last two millennia, whenever the people of God have decided to lay aside their “Emperor’s rags” and stand naked in the hands of Almighty God, the Spirit of God has moved among us, changed us, and set the world on its ear.
I wonder if we’re capable of doing that in our Mainline denominational machinery? I wonder if we’re capable of doing that in our focus groups and caucuses? If not – and I truly wonder if God really wants that anyway – then it would be good news indeed for a fresh wind of revival to come bubbling-up from outside the walls of the church buildings.
Is there any “fresh-wind” of God’s Spirit blowing through your life? Psalm 80 is a good place to lay down the rags of slavery.
Let the revival begin.
Title Photo: https://blog.spu.edu/lectio/out-of-the-depths-onto-the-heights/