When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then 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.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
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.
I spent childhood summers on Galveston Bay and went to a little country church. In the Sunday School room, our enthusiastic teacher led our small community of children in the old hymns she pounded out on the upright. “The Church in the Wildwood.” “Bringing in the Sheaves.” We sang to raise the roof! You can find it HERE.
Decades later, when planning liturgies, I loved to adapt Psalms as Calls to Worship. Once when planning for a retirement community, I saw that the Psalm for Sunday was 126. To my surprise, it looked like the inspiration for “Bringing in the Sheaves”! I used the whole Psalm for the Call, and then we immediately sang “Bringing in the Sheaves.” We raised the roof!
This Psalm is honest about the hard times. It speaks of sorrows and loss, and of the uncertainty that haunts every planting season. And this Psalm rejoices that God brings restoration into hard times, and lifts us up to thrive! It remembers blessings, and prays for blessings yet to be given. The seeds of our hopes seem to disappear, like seeds sown into the earth; then, like the wheat, they emerge into stalks that we harvest and bring in to share, to keep life going.
Many Psalms provide words for personal questioning, grieving, and thanksgiving. Psalm 126 is a chorus for our whole community, to remember the struggles we’ve shared, and to rejoice in God’s gracious love, the love that brings us through it all together!
Gracious God, we’ve endured difficult times when it has not been wise for us to be together, to worship you and to learn about your love from each other. In the days when we return to full companionship, help us to remember our early joy in being together again, to worship in your Holy Name! Amen.