When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs 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 are filled with joy.
This Psalm describes the joy of those who hundreds of years before the birth of Christ had been exiled from Jerusalem and held captive in a foreign land. When eventually they were allowed back home, they were full of joy. I remember how when we first went into lockdown I pondered the opening verses of this Psalm and dreamt of the day when we would return to our church building. I thought about the great celebration we would have with a packed church, a big band, much singing and a great fun filled party afterwards.
Much of my time in the past few weeks has been spent preparing for our return to our church building from this Sunday and it will be exciting to be back and to worship together again. However, we know now that our return will not be quite that described in the Psalm or in my dreams. We will be few in number and it will be more modest and restrained - but we will be back!
Psalm 126 continues with a plea to God. Although the community had been allowed home, life had again become difficult and so they asked God to restore their fortunes again. They prayed with confidence that those who sow in tears will one day reap songs of joy.
For the foreseeable future, church services will look different from anything any of us have ever known and whilst we will celebrate our partial return we too long for that day when we can all return together, when we can sing at the top of our voices and we can party without worry about keeping our social distance. But until that day comes, we will continue to hold fast to God and his mercy and know that he will restore our fortunes – one day we too will return with songs of joy. Why not use this song that we sometimes sing as we trust in God for the future.
Prayer: Thank you for your promise to restore and make new. In this time of uncertainty, we thank you that you are unchanging and will one day restore us and allow us to be together and to worship you with songs of joy.
Prayer Request: Please pray for our Bishops Sarah and Pete as they make important decisions for Churches in London. Pray particularly for Bishop Sarah who acts as the lead Bishop for the Church of England with Government.