Lectionary Year B
December 15, 2002
Third Sunday in Advent
Psalm 126

Hermeneutical Bridge


      The other RCL readings are: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 (A Servant's Song: that which is ruined will be restored, for Yahweh loves justice); Luke 1:47-55 (The Magnificat, the Great Reversal in which many fortunes will be changed, some for the better, some not!); 1 Thess. 5:16-24 (a "constitution" for guiding life in anticipation as Christians await Christ's second advent); John 1:6-8, 19-28 (John the Baptizer's ministry, and the way he pointed beyond himself to Jesus).

      How might Psalm 126 be used? Advent is a time for looking ahead as well as back, for as generations in Israel/Judah looked toward "restoration", and a time of joyful harvest, Christians look ahead to "The Coming of the Lord." We sing, for instance, the last stanza of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" about "the age of gold"; in this year of massacres in high schools, a war in the Balkans, a messy impeachment, etc., we see plenty of ruins we long to have restored. People may need reminding that part of waiting and longing is living faithfully as those who belong to God in life and in death. As the Baptizer pointed beyond his own memorable figure and work to Christ, so the Church and its mission, programs, and worship point beyond tradition and survival and self-interest toward the One who restores and reverses fortunes, who for us sowed seeds of tears and suffering but brought the gift of a harvest of resurrection and abundant, eternal life. These are some ideas for how Psalm 126 might be "paired" with one or more of the other RCL texts for today.

Another possible bridge:

      "Homecoming": The return from exile was a time of wonder and joy, when even nations who knew nothing of the LORD recognized how small, battered, exiled Judah had been graciously blessed. Actually being there was another matter: conflicts, struggles to rebuild, hard lives, disillusion. How often people long for a perfect homecoming, say, at Christmas-- a holiday with no disappointments, or hurt feelings. It rarely happens. A sermon could point then to God's grace that lies within the reason for celebrating Christmas, the child born to us who restores the fortunes of many.

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