LORD, you have lavished on your land amazing blessings from your hand, restored us from captivity and pardoned our iniquity. In grace you caused your wrath to turn; you did not let your anger burn.
LORD, bring us back to grace again; blot out your anger at our sin. Revive us, LORD, that we may raise our thankful hymns and psalms of praise. In mercy, LORD, your people bless with saving love and faithfulness.
To all his saints, the LORD speaks peace; his faithful love and care increase. He shares his grace with open hand to spread his glory through our land. Salvation from the LORD is near to all who trust the LORD in fear.
Then love will meet with faithfulness; God’s righteousness and peace will kiss. As righteousness smiles down from heaven, great harvests to our land are given. With God all righteousness abides; his truth and justice are our guides.
Looking at the commentaries, there are differing views as to when this Psalm was written – possibly post Exile, or maybe earlier. Opinions also differ regarding the event to which it refers. Perhaps it is a generic hymn written for the Autumn festivals, and asking God to ensure renewal next Spring, or perhaps it refers to a specific disaster. Whatever you might believe about the context, the Psalmist was living through a period of bleakness at the time of writing, lamenting the darkness of some unnamed affliction. Yet through all of this I admire the fortitude and optimism as the Psalmist looks back with gratitude and joyfully sings the details of times when God saved, then looks forward in the absolute certainty that God will do the same again knowing there is no shame in asking for more.
There are many potential analogies here with our 21st Century situation as we come to terms with a world that has taken a battering from Covid, where some have vaccines whilst others have none, where climate chaos is real, and refugees die in their struggle to find somewhere that will offer hospitality. Although different translations have different ways of saying it, the Psalmist is clear that the world of prayer and faith is also the world of nature, and The Message paraphrase puts this very simply saying that Right Living and Whole Living go hand-in-hand.
Perhaps this Psalm is a Kingdom lesson for 21st century disciples, it’s about caring for each other and for the earth and asking God for renewal. As the hymn writer here says ‘Revive us Lord, that we may raise our thankful hymns and psalms of praise’.
Prayer ‘Lord, bring us back to grace again’.
Help us to listen for your words in the voices of vulnerable people, refugees, people who are grieving and all who are suffering. Help us understand that we cannot have ‘ Whole Living’ unless we are ‘Right Living’, so help us to care for each other and in so-doing to care for creation.
Revive us Lord, so that we can indeed sing your praises anew. Amen
Linda Rayner, Member at Bramhall URC and URC Coordinator for fresh expressions.