Return Rejoicing!

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
September 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126

This six-verse psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and other Protestant liturgies. It is well known in Judaism as the preliminary psalm recited before the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and as such is sung to a wide variety of melodies.

Wikipedia
Shir hama'alot (Psalm 126) - cantor Yossele Rosenblatt

Psalm 126 can be described as:

 “joy remembered and joy anticipated”

James Luther Mays

The psalm is divided into two parts. 

Joys remembered: The first three verses gratefully reflect on the joy and freedom felt upon return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.

Joys anticipated: The second three verses attest to the difficulties subsequent to that return. They voice a plea for restoration of joy.


This is a prayer most of us can relate to. Can you remember a time when you were so delighted to obtain a certain item, or status, or goal that you felt it was “almost like a dream” situation? 

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
    we were like those dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with rejoicing.

Psalm 126:1

But perhaps, once that reality was obtained, it wasn’t so easy to manage, or complete, or enjoy! Perhaps there were “dry spells” like the torrent-less desert of 126:

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
    like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
    shall reap rejoicing.

Psalm 126: 4-5

For example, I’ve heard a few young couples express delight upon buying their first home – a “fixer upper”. But often, the “fixing up” requires a lot more resources than expected!

Such was the situation for the Israelites who joyfully returned to Jerusalem — only to find a city in ruins, bereft of their beloved Temple, with devastated fields and vineyards.


Still, Psalm 126 is a testament to hope and resilience. It is an affirmation that we can go forward by faith, hope, trust, patience, and by drawing on the power of remembered mercies.

Although they go forth weeping,
    carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
    carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126:6

Poem: Blessing to Summon Rejoicing – Jan Richardson

When your weeping
has watered
the earth.
When the storm
has been long
and the night
and the season
of your sorrowing.
When you have seemed
an exile
from your life,
lost in the far country,
a long way from where
your comfort lies.
When the sound
of splintering
and fracture
haunts you.
When despair
attends you.
When lack.
When trouble.
When fear.
When pain.
When empty.
When lonely.
When too much
of what depletes you
and not enough
of what restores
and rests you.
Then let there be
rejoicing.
Then let there be
dreaming.
Let there be
laughter in your mouth
and on your tongue
shouts of joy.
Let the seeds
soaked by tears
turn to grain,
to bread,
to feasting.
Let there be
coming home.

— from Circle of Grace

Music: In the Place of Dreams – Tim Janis

2 thoughts on “Return Rejoicing!

  1. I’m sure that the joys remembered and the joys anticipated were evident this weekend at Merion for the Sisters’ Anniversary Jubilees. Rejoicing with all of you in the celebrations.
    PS – sent you an email too!
    Blessings, Sue

    Liked by 1 person

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