I’m trying out a different format, the song titles and playlist are at the end. All the fun stuff first. It’s like dessert before dinner.
Dear Great Pumpkin,
I’m looking forward to your arrival on Halloween night. I hope you will bring me lots of presents. You must get discouraged because more people believe in Santa Claus than you. Well, let’s face it. Santa Claus has had more publicity. But being number two, perhaps you try harder. Everyone tells me you’re a fake, but I believe in you.
P.S. If you really are a fake, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.
There I was Saturday night sitting in the most sincere pumpkin patch, not a single hypocritical pumpkin to be found, hoping that the Great Pumpkin would choose my patch – the sincerest pumpkin patch – to visit and give me lots of presents. But, to the shock of no one, I awoke Sunday morning without having seen the Great Pumpkin. Despite the ridicule of my friends and family I’m pretty hopeful that next year will be the year.
My favorite of the psalms is Psalm 126:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
…We were like those who dream
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
…our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
…“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
…and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
…like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
…will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
…carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
…carrying sheaves with them.
Psalm 126, a psalm of ascent
A psalm of ascent is a song that worshippers would sing as they approached the temple. It’s a road song. A song on the way. This particular psalm was written to commemorate the Jew’s exile to Babylon, when they hung their harps on the willow branches. This song remembers when they had no song.
For an exile hope can seem of no use. What’s the use in trying? Things are as bad as they’ve ever been. For 70 years, a whole generation, the Jews were exiled from their promised land to Babylon. God, through his prophet Jeremiah, told the hopeless exiles to take up shop, that they were going to be there awhile and that they should “build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29.5-8 NIV)
The exiles were comissioned to make the best of a bad situation. But, what about their promised land? What about home? Like Linus in the pumpkin patch waiting on that elusive Great Pumpkin, home was a dim dream for the exiles in Babylon. Maybe next year? For 70 years they waited, and planted gardens. They sowed their sorrowful seeds, their fading hope a harvest of joy.
But the promise of Psalm 126 is that what was planted would indeed become a bountiful feast. Because this is what God does. He brought the exiles home, and what a sweet homecoming: Those who wept, now laughed. Those who were filled with sorrow, now sang joy. Those who planted in sadness, reap with glad hearts in Isarel.
This is the way of God: the poor of spirit inherit the kingdom of Heaven, those who mourn are comforted, the meek inherit the earth, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied, those who are merciful are shown mercy, the pure in heart see God, peacemakers are called His children, those persecuted for His namesake will never be destroyed. The last are first, the humble are exalted, the exiles come home.
As we lead up to Thanksgiving later this month, and – at a distance – celebrate this year’s harvest we remember that “those who go out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carring sheaves with them.” Psalm 126 reminds us of our former exiled state and points us forward to a future kingdom of dreaming and joy and laughter.
We sang a new song this Sunday based on Psalm 126, “We Will Feast In The House Of Zion” before and during communion and Terri Van Grol reminded us that: “The bounty on your [Thanksgiving] table will never compare to the bounty that was on the table during the last supper.”
We approached the communion table as exiles in our sin, wanderers on this earth. And at the table we remembered that Christ sojourns with us, that he has sown in sorrow on the cross and has harvested joy in resurrection. We remembered him as we ate the bread and drank the wine, waiting until he returns when we’ll “feast in the house of Zion, singing with our hearts restored.”
At the table, as exiles, we declared that the Lord has done great things for us and that we are glad.
The songs we sang this week were:
- The Mighty Hand of God by Citizens & Saints
- Open Up Our Eyes by Elevation Worship
- We Will Feast In The House of Zion by Sandra McCraken
- Thank You God For Saving Me by Chris Tomlin & Phil Wickham
Attached is a playlist of most of those tunes, except for the new one. Sandra McCracken has opted not to put this album on Spotify – maybe in the future, but not yet. For a limited time “We Will Feast In the House of Zion” and the album it came off, with bonus material, is available at Noisetrade where you can name your price – or download it for free. Seriously, this is one of the best albums of 2015 – easily the best worship album. It’ll make your heart happy. You’ll be angry if you don’t follow this link: Psalms, Sandra McCraken http://noisetrade.com/sandramccracken/psalms GO DOWNLOAD! FAST!