Read Psalm 126.
Walter Brueggemann offers a framework for reading the psalms in terms of orientation, disorientation, and re-orientation. In Psalm 126, Israel has endured a terrible disorientation – ripped from their homeland and forced into exile by the Babylonian empire. After 70 years, the people are allowed to return to their lands. The psalmist leads them in giving thanks to God for their return. However, things have changed. The younger generation has no memory of how things were before. They have to re-orient themselves based solely on the stories they heard as children.
Most of us cannot image being in exile. You may have left home to attend college or maybe you are living at home. Either way, things have changed. It can be disorienting. Standing out in this otherwise positive psalm is verse 5: “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy” (NRSV). Verse 6 follows in the same vein. Dealing with change involves grieving what once was in order to fully live into what is and will be. In other words, change is hard.
Psalm 126 is about remembering our disorienting seasons of change and learning to give thanks for God’s presence in every season, as God is always inviting us into new ways of being (re-orientation). During this season of Advent, may we be faithful in reflecting on and anticipating God’s presence each season of our lives.
Always Present God, by your Holy Spirit guide us as we seek to follow in the Way of Jesus – a way of way of hope, peace, joy, and love. Even as we grieve the loss of old ways of being, help us to give thanks for the ways you are always inviting us forward. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Eric O. Ledermann
UKIRK Presbyterian Campus Ministry at Arizona State University