Thursday, December 15, 2011

Third Thursday of Advent

When the LORD restored the
         fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with

   and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
   "The LORD has done great things
         for them."
The LORD has done great things for

   and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

   like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears

    reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,

    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    carrying their sheaves.
             Psalm 126

Because we are unable to measure up to the world's standards of happiness (determined by one's wealth, looks, success), we no longer believe in joy, no matter how much we sing of it.  Because we can find little enjoyment in the days filled with barrages of emails, constant demands on our time, the hurries and hassles imposed upon us by so many, we are so close to tears that we can taste them on the insides of our eyelids.  Because life just hasn't turned out like all the experts, the teachers, the books, the prognosticators told us all those years ago, no wonder so many of us have turned to anger as our drug of choice.  Things have gotten so out of hand that no one seems to be in control.

But Psalm 126 reminds us that all those things  -  every thing  -  that take place in our lives are in God's hands.  Whether they be good moments of unexpected laughter, or those storms of struggle, God is with us.  When we take those faltering steps into the unknown, or simply walk into our grandchild's school for the music program, God is beside us.  If we are lucky, we may discover that, like the psalmist, it is not because of anything we have done, or the church does, or our communities or families, it is simply God's actions which bring about hope and restoration in our lives.

When God acts, then lives are changed;
when God acts, our deepest sighs become peals of laughter;
when God acts, our laments turn into shouts of gladness;
when God acts, our bitter tears become pools of water
   refreshing the seeds of joy planted deep within us.

Do you believe it?

(c) 2011  Thom M. Shuman

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