Dear Christ Church Family,
There is real power in remembering. That’s especially true when our remembering is of God’s goodness to us in the past. It has the power to renew our faith, and to bring us through even the worst moments of our lives. That’s what Psalm 126 demonstrates today.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
Psalm 126: A Psalm to remember, when remembering. All of us have had ups and downs in our lives. Some have been small like the rises and falls of a peaceful path through a wooded glen. These neither impede nor propel the progress of our lives much, but are more like momentary moods that easily change along the smoother parts of our life’s journey. But others, hopefully fewer in number than the previously mentioned sort, are more akin to a roller coaster ride in their thrilling, breathtaking heights and terrifying, plunging depths. The older we are, the more we accrue of both sorts, though the more we may be likely to forget of the first, and the less we may be able to forget of the second.
The thing with this latter group is that they do propel and impede our lives, depending on where we are in the arc. These are the experiences of life that have, at times, caused us to raise our grateful hands toward Heaven in praise with shouts of joy. And, at other times, caused us to fall to our knees with groans of despair.
In Psalm 126, the writer is just now going through the bottom of the arc. What has gone wrong exactly is not mentioned. We only know that it is some reversal of fortune. That fortune may be economic or political or relational; it may be a personal misfortune or apply to the entire community. It is possible, perhaps likely, that it is all of these things all at once. Whatever has happened, the Psalmist has been driven to his knees in prayer. The Psalmist wants deliverance.
But notice how this prayer for deliverance begins. The Psalmist first remembers God’s faithfulness to him, to his community, in the past. S/he** recalls it to God. It’s not that God needs to be reminded of it. It’s that the Psalmist wants God to know that s/he hasn’t forgotten it, that s/he is still grateful for the gifts of the past. But this remembering serves another function as well. In remembering the past goodness of the Lord, the Psalmist is actually increasing his courage to face the present and is increasing his faith to ask God to intervene for the future. That is how remembering changes everything.
When I think of how to sum up the progression of this Psalm in just a few words, it comes out like this:
1. “Lord do you remember how happy we were that time you delivered us?
I still remember and I am so grateful.
2. Lord, do it again!
3. Just think, Lord, how much joy you will have,
to see us happy like that again!”
Now that is a prayer of faith. And that is the power of remembering.
**A note: I often try to represent the possibility that the Psalmist could as easily be a woman as a man. Hence the use of the split singular pronoun s/he where its use helps make the point. Though it is likely that the majority of these Psalms were composed by men, the Bible contains Psalms that were clearly written by women. Miriam’s Psalm of deliverance at the Hebrew’s rescue by God in crossing the Red/Reed Sea in Exodus, for instance. And as many of the Psalms in the Book of Psalms are authored by communities, though spoken in a single voice, it is reasonable to conclude that these communities included women contributors.
* Commemorations in italics are from A Great Cloud of Witnesses; others are from Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018.