A Scriptural Banquet

December 5, 2021
Second Sunday of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Baruch, Paul, Luke (channeling Isaiah), and Psalm 126. The passages given us are rich, lyrical, joyful and profound.


The Lord has done great things for us;
we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126:3


For this whole coming week, we are invited to a scriptural banquet – the table set with  preciously familiar Advent phrases to, once again, enrich and challenge our hearts.

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
    put on the splendor of glory from God forever…

Baruch 5:1

I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it 
until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

A voice of one crying out in the desert:
    “Prepare the way of the Lord,
        make straight his paths.
    Every valley shall be filled
        and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
    The winding roads shall be made straight,
        and the rough ways made smooth,
    and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Luke 3: 4-6

As with any banquet, we can approach this richness by taking a little bit of every offering, or we might prefer to fill up on one inspiration that particularly speaks to us at this moment in our lives.

  • Is there a misery we long to have lifted from our shoulders?
  • Is there a confidence and strength we seek from God?
  • Is there a sacred voice we need to hear, 
  • a crooked way needing straightening, 
  • an emptiness to be filled, 
  • an insurmountable challenge to be faced, 
  • a roughness to be smoothed?

Whatever our situation, by placing our needs faithfully before the promise of Advent, we will find the healing, hope, and grace we need.

Let these magnificent words seep into your heart to ready it for the promised salvation. For it is Advent – and

God is leading Israel in joy
    by the light of Divine Glory,
    with mercy and justice for company.

Baruch 5:9

Prose: from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.


Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability –
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God can say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Music: Starlight through Barren Branches – Joel Clarkson

That Little Seed

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once again with Psalm 126, a song of hope fulfilled:

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

Then they said among the nations,
    “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
    we are glad indeed.

Psalm 126: 1-3

In our readings, we are called to be people of hope – to live in gratitude for hopes fulfilled, and to live in confidence of future blessing.


Paul blesses us with some of his most powerful words:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

Romans 8:18

How often, over the ensuing centuries, have these words uplifted and embravened a struggling heart! Paul reminds us of what he so passionately believed – that we are not here for this world alone; that we, with all Creation, are being transformed for eternal life in God.


Jesus too reminds us that our life in faith is so much bigger than we perceive. We see a tiny mustard seed, but God sees the whole tree of eternal life blossoming in us.  We see a fingertip of yeast, but God sees the whole Bread of Life rising in us.

Paul tells us to be People of Hope who do not yet expect to see the object of their hope but who, nonetheless, believe and love with all their hearts.

May we pray this today for ourselves, and for anyone burdened by suffering or hopelessness at this time in their lives.


Poetry: Hope – Czeslaw Milosz

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
that sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all thing you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.
You cannot enter. But you're sure it's there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.
Some people say that we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
There are the ones who have no hope.
They think the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hand of thieves.

Music:  Living Hope – Phil Wickham

Don’t Pass Me By

October 24, 2021
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126, a song of irrepressible joy at Divine Deliverance:

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

Then they said among the nations,
    “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
    we are glad indeed.

Psalm 126: 1-3

The psalm captures for us
a community which
recognizes, beseeches,
and thanks God for its deliverance.

Our Gospel presents us with a story of someone who is delivered – the blind man, Bartimeus. He is an otherwise unknown character in scripture. Yet this short passage suggests so much about him.

It is stated that he was the son of Timeus, apparently someone of note in the community – otherwise, why mention his name? And yet this notable man’s blind son is left to begging on the side of the road. Had disability driven father and son apart? Was Dad unable to accept a son with a physical challenge?

The passage also reveals that Bartimeus knew about Jesus. Perhaps while begging in the public square, he talked and listened. He daydreamed about what he planned to do if he should ever have a chance to meet Jesus!

His cronies in the marketplace were not very supportive. They told him to shut up, even as he pathetically cried for Jesus’s mercy. Still, Bartimues persisted and Jesus heard him.

When he comes to Jesus, Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” It has always struck me as a strange question. The man is obviously blind, stumbling through the crowd on some disciple’s arm. Why did Jesus bother to ask what Bartimeus wanted?


This might be the lesson hidden in this Gospel. We need to name and claim our needs before God can reach through and transform them. If we don’t even know we’re “blind”, how can we know we’re cured? If we don’t present our needs to God, how can we believe that it is God Who has healed us?

The freshly cured Bartimeus, eyes wide open in grace, now follows along the path with Jesus. All the “shut-uppers” are silenced. Perhaps, Timeus weeps off in a doorway to see the power of his son’s faith and Jesus’s love.

How might our lives be changed if we had that kind of faith… that kind of love?


Poetry: Blind Bartimeus – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Blind Bartimeus at the gates
Of Jericho in darkness waits;
He hears the crowd;--he hears a breath
Say, "It is Christ of Nazareth!"
And calls, in tones of agony,
Ἰησοῦ ἐλέησόν με! (Have mercy on me!)

The thronging multitudes increase;
Blind Bartimeus, hold thy peace!
But still, above the noisy crowd,
The beggar's cry is shrill and loud;
Until they say, "He calleth thee!"
Θάρσει ἔγειρε φωνεῖ σε! (Jesus is calling you)

Then saith the Christ, as silent stands
The crowd, "What wilt thou at my hands?"
And he replies, "Oh, give me light!
Rabbi, restore the blind man's sight."
And Jesus answers, "ὕπαγε
πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε!" (Your faith has saved you)

Ye that have eyes, yet cannot see,
In darkness and in misery,
Recall those mighty Voices Three,
Ἰησοῦ ἐλέησόν με! (Have mercy on me.)
Θάρσει ἔγειρε φωνεῖ σε! (Jesus is calling you.)
ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε! (Your faith has saved you.)

Music: Don’t Pass Me By – Fred Hammond (lyrics below)

There was a blind man on the road side, and he heard a commotion
It was Jesus passing by with a crowd and it stirred his emotions
He’d been displaced his whole life, should he even try

Don’t bother Jesus (they say you have nothing)
You have nothing to offer (stay in your place)
Right then he knew(he had to choose)
He had nothing to lose

So he cried Jesus (Jesus), I need you,  please don’t pass me by
He cried out Jesus, I’m not ashamed(to tell you) I need you in my life
(I need you in my life)

I’m not much different from that man, and this is the honest truth
Could this sinful one, with this messed up life, could I ever serve you
people and things clutter my mind, should I even try

Don’t bother Jesus (they say you have nothing)
You have nothing to offer (stay in your place)
Right then he knew (he had to choose)
He had nothing to lose

So I cry Jesus(Jesus), I need you
Please don’t pass me by
I’m crying out Jesus, I’m not ashamed to tell you I need you in my life

As the deer (as the deer panted)
Thirsty for the water yeah(thirsty for the water)
My soul desires and longs to be(to be with you)

Jesus, I need you, please don’t pass me by
I don’t mean to waste your time but I can’t listen to the crowd,
Situations in my life telling me to keep it down
But I need you

I know I’m broken, but you can heal me, Jesus, Jesus I’m calling you
(I might not be worth much)might not be worth much, but I’m still willing
Jesus, Jesus, I’m calling you

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

Psalm 126: The Rhythm of Life

Feast of Saint James, Apostle

July 25, 2020 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126, one of fifteen Psalms of Ascent, which meant it would be sung in gratitude when “ascending” for prayer.

You may enjoy listening to the Psalm read accompanied by music.
Psalm 126 – Milken Archive, Jewish Choral Art in America.


Psalm 126 is popular and immediately recognizable to Jews and Christians. Thought to be written by either Ezra or the prophets at the return from the Babylonian Captivity, the psalm celebrates restoration while remembering the lessons of exile.

Israel is overwhelmed with gratitude at their deliverance, barely able to comprehend God’s goodness.

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


Have you ever had a feeling like that, perhaps when you’ve gotten to the other side of a really rough patch in your life? Feeling like we’ve come through a dream – maybe a bad one – we can’t even find the words to thank God for helping us. We might simply laugh or cry for joy.

Psalm 126 reminds us not to let that tumultuous gratitude dissipate. The repetition of the psalm inscribes that gratitude on our hearts, transforming it to renewed hope and trust in God. As Catherine McAuley reminds us, life is a series of joys and sorrows. Both cycles can deepen our faith when we receive them in union with God.

This is your life,
joys and sorrow mingled,
one succeeding the other.

Letter to Francis Warde – May 28, 1841

Julien Dupré (French, 1851-1910)

Psalm 126 assures us that we can meet our life experiences with hope and trust because God is faithful. Within both our “comings” and our “goings”, God abides with us and will deliver us to joy.

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


Poetry:  A Short Testament by Anne Porter

Whatever harm I may have done 
In all my life in all your wide creation creation
If I cannot repair it 
I beg you to repair it, 

And then there are all the wounded 
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed 
As if I were not one of them. 
Where I have wronged them by it 
And cannot make amends 
I ask you 
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near 
That I've destroyed in blind complicity, 
And if I cannot find them 
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over 
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death's bare branches.

Music: Hallelujah- Leonard Cohen