Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
~Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV)
The familiar words of Psalm 51 are a reminder that God creates, renews, casts near or far, restores and upholds. Even in the waiting of Advent God is active. Something happens in our hearts that often cannot be put into words until we celebrate the reality that we have not been cast away from the Lord’s presence. Just the opposite, God came to restore joy and salvation in our lives.
Simeon and Anna are my Advent superheroes. Each year I marvel at how they waited for the joyful revelation of God’s salvation.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
or my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:25-38)
In my mind’s eye I see their joy, diminished by waiting, fully restored as soon as Simeon and Anna caught a glimpse of their newborn King.
In the remaining days of Advent with clean hearts and renewed spirits, may the Lord’s presence restore to us the joy of our salvation.
Blessed are You, O Lord, who restores.