“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.” (Psalm 67:1)
When we think about God’s face shining on us, what do we think about? Is it like the gentle warmth of the sun on a winter’s day? Or perhaps it’s like a light that surrounds and protects us like a shield? But if we seek the warmth of the sun or the light of a new day, we need to step into that warmth and light; we cannot remain in a dark place.
God’s word, who is Jesus, is that warmth; he is that light. In John 8:12, Jesus speaks to the people, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus is the only source of the gospel truth that humanity longs to shine upon us.
In medieval manuscripts, the gospels were produced with illumination, using gold and silver in the text and images. The highly trained monks, or skilled illuminators, saw the light that shone from the gospel message and meticulously aimed to reproduce it. The ancient illuminated texts from Ethiopia, Greece or Lindisfarne are remarkably beautiful. But only in Jesus will we ever truly experience the eternal illuminating light of truth. And we daily seek this truth filled with light. The reason we ask God to shine on us is not simply so that we are blessed and then enjoy a carefree, comfortable life here on earth but so that we also serve others through the blessing we have received and come into that light when we reach our eternal home. The assurance of this promise of salvation is written in verse two of today’s psalm, “your salvation among all nations”. It is the salvation of Jesus, who is the message of the cross.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us, so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you … May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.”
God of illuminating light and love, thank you for your holy word. Thank you for providing us with the richness that the Book of Psalms offers — everything to fill our lives with faith and love towards you and others. May our lives shine with a light that is a witness to your gospel truth in this dark world. In Jesus’ holy Name, Amen.