Prepare to Listen. In silence and stillness light the first purple candle of Advent and pray: Restore our fortunes, O Lord.
Prayerfully Read Psalm 126
1When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’
3The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
4Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
The psalmist begins with a past tense claim; restoration had happened (vv1-3). Yet, half way in he prays for a future restoration (vv4-6). So, which is it—past or future? Perhaps both.
Restoration refers to homecoming after decades of exile in Babylon, and had already happened. It was like a dream come true, people were euphoric. Mouths were filled with laughter, tongues with shouts of joy. Praise rang through the land and beyond so even the surrounding nations testified to God’s greatness.
But then reality set in. Homecoming had its hardships. Their land was still in the ruins left by the Babylonians decades earlier. Rebuilding a new life needed another restoration, not a return to ‘the good old days,’ but to the newness God alone brings. A newness like the transformation of the desert Negeb after the yearly rains had filled the rivers so that farmers, who’d planted in tears, rejoiced knowing there’d be food.
Today we can identify with a homecoming that is still unfinished. Covid-19 put us in an exile of lockdowns, restrictions and limitations that remain ongoing. We long for a homecoming, freedom from fear of this virus and the imposed restrictions. But homecoming, while joyous, comes with new burdens, different hardships. Like Israel, we will say, “When the LORD restored our fortunes,” even as we continue to pray, “Restore our fortunes, O LORD.” Advent is a time to practice patience in waiting for full restoration that will be different to what we once knew.
What word or phrase caught your attention? Reflect on what the Spirit may be saying to you as you seek to be restored.
Respond to Jesus
You are a God who desires that your people experience exuberant joy. For all those who are experiencing sorrow today, may they be strengthened by your power and love to hope in your promise of a return with joy. Grant us courage to accept the hardships and transformations you alone can bring. In the name of Jesus who came that our joy may be complete, Amen.
Go live obediently in the world as you wait in patience to be fully restored.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.