May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5
Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm 126:
Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉
Breath Prayer: I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often. Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise. This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine. Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.
Nicole Cardoza’s Guided Meditation For Anxiety
Try this short meditation, created by Yoga Foster and Reclamation Ventures founder Nicole Cardoza, the next time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious. Read in Yoga Journal.
Mr. Roger’s “Taking a breath” This one is short, but Mr. Roger’s voice is calming for me (and many Pittsburghers) and even his virtual presence can summon childhood memories of calmness and safety.
2020 has been quite a year. As I read Psalm 126, I remember that there have been other years that were difficult for the people of God. And it seems to me that God has a habit of bringing us out of the difficult times. God is renewing, transforming, and enlivening us again. God’s work is for our salvation; the cycle of life, death, and resurrection spiral anew in each generation. This cycle is not only for the forgiveness of sin but for the reversal of the oppression and injustice caused by sin. Even now, the prisoners suffer, the poor are hungry, the sick are terrified by their illness, and yet, we believe that the injustices that each of them face will be righted, even though the work is still incomplete. There is hope that while the pattern repeats, it is not an exact repeat, more like a spiral than a circle. We are moving closer to the kin-dom of God. In advent, we sow tears, we mourn, we repent, and we hope that God will be born within us once again, to bring the joy of our salvation.
Let us pray:
One way to think about breath prayer is that whatever is exhaled other people will inhale. So, sometimes we might inhale and exhale the same idea with the hope that what we receive from God, we can share with others. For example, you may imagine receiving God’s steadfast love while praying that others are receiving God’s steadfast love.
Another way to think about breath prayer is to pick something you would like to receive for your inhalation and something you would like to release for your exhalation. The idea is to keep it simple, so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale. That simple prayer could be something like this: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your joy and release my tears.
Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
Sources and notes:
“Psalm 126 is the seventh in the collection of songs of ascents (see Psalms 120 – 134). It is the voice of pilgrims to Jerusalem who have come to remember the restoration of Zion and seek the renewal of the people of the LORD.” Mays p. 399
“The song is about joy remembered and joy anticipated. In both cases the joy is the work of LORD, in the first through the restoration of Zion and in the second through the renewal of those who sing the song.” Mays p. 399
“”Restore the fortunes” is a translation of the Hebrew idiom that is difficult to replicate in English. It is a fixed expression found primarily in prophetic sayings, where it is used for the radical change for the conditions brought about by divine wrath to those which result from divine favor. It means restoration of an earlier situation between God and people (e.g., Amos 9:14; Joel 3:1; Jer. 29:14; Zeph. 2:7).” Mays p. 399
“The cycle of misfortune and deliverance celebrated in v 1 has half come round again. The community bring their prayer for restoration with the hope that Yahweh will repeat his saving activity (cf. 106:43-44; Judg 3:9, 15).” WBC p. 174
“What the pilgrims remember about the past they pray for in the present. The restoration of Zion needs completion in the restoration of the people; the memory of its restoration gives hope for their own renewal.” Mays p. 400
“…Psalm 126 reminds us that we live in the hope of God’s help, always remembering what God has done in the past … and always anticipating what God will do in the further…” NIB p. 664
“Traditionally, sowing had overtones of sorrow as a sign of death (cf. John 12:24; 1 For 15:36). But the toil and tears of frustration would eventually give way to a harvest of blessing for the community (cf. 30:6 ).” WBC p. 174
This psalm pops up in the lectionary in Lent and Advent maybe indicating that “only those who move toward Christmas and Eater with the “tears” of repentance and need may enter into the joy of “the great thing God does for us”.” Mays p. 400
“Psalm 126 is also appropriately associated with the seasons of Advent and Lent, because it communicates the reality that the people of God always live by both memory and hope. During Advent and Lent, we remember the humble and humbling circumstances of Jesus’ birth and death; yet we do so in the joyful hope represented by his resurrection and the promise of the renewal of all things. The hopeful, joyful tone of Psalm 126 points to the possibility that dreaming in v. 1 involves not simply the incredulous response to a divine act of deliverance but the suggestion that every divine act of deliverance evokes a joyous vision of the future out of which the people of God live (see Joel 2:28 and its use in Acts 2:17).” NIB p. 665
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know. Nashville, TN: Abington Press.
Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.
I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom. Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C. Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others. Reflections exploring the Psalms in year D. While we were using Year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A. Now that we are rejoining those who use the lectionary, we are on Year B. This we hope will keep all of us planning and preparing worship on the same page.
I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections when I’m following the Revised Common Lectionary.
Other Year B Psalm blog posts:
Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 80, 2nd Sunday in Advent Psalm 85, 3rd Sunday in Advent Psalm 126, 4th Sunday in Advent Psalm 89, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 139, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 62, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 111, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 147, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 50