Psalm 126 (Song version that we sang on Sunday)
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, •
then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter •
and our tongue with songs of joy.
Then said they among the nations, •
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has indeed done great things for us, •
and therefore we rejoiced.
Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, •
as the river beds of the desert.
Those who sow in tears •
shall reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, •
will come back with shouts of joy,
bearing their sheaves with them.

Advent is not a stale, stagnant season. We do not just sit in one spot for 24 days and then suddenly find ourselves at Christmas. Like good poetry, Advent has a kind of movement to it, drawing us closer and closer to the light that shines in the darkness, Jesus. This season reaches back into the past of God’s faithfulness and nudges us closer to the future of God’s promises.

In our text today, the psalmist starts by reaching into Israel’s past, remembering an idyllic time when all was as it should be, when their deepest dreams were real. Like children who have stuffed themselves on sweets, they were so full of the knowledge of God’s goodness that they could not help but laugh and sing.

Many of us know the power of nostalgia. It can comfort us, but it can also cause despair. Will things ever be that good again? Right now, we weep. Right now, we scatter tears on the ground like seed. We are suffering. Then as the psalm moves toward the hope of the future, the psalmist is saying, “Do it again, Lord.” Restore us again, Lord, fill our parched lands with water, fill our mouths again with laughter. Even as right now the seeds we scatter on the ground are nothing but tears, in due season let them return as songs of joy.

At Advent though, we declare that hope for restoration is much more than nostalgia. It has already begun through the arrival of Jesus, and we can start to sing songs of joy, to shout with deep, reverent joy, for what God will do. Today, we light the candle of joy because the light of the world, Jesus, is also the joy of the world. Let this joy be the crown upon our heads.

Let us pray:
Restore us, Lord, so that our mouths may again be filled with laughter, that we may shout and sing songs of joy. Make us again like those who dream. Amen.

Brian is the administrator for Peace Fellowship Church and a student of theology at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology in Baltimore, MD.