Saturday, December 20, 2008

Psalm 126

Monday is the Feast of St. Thomas, and the Psalter reading in the Episcopal Lectionary is 126, the first verse of which states, "When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream."

That sentence has always moved me in a way that is difficult to communicate. Imagine, if you will, something for which you have worked and prayed for years, a lifetime, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, becoming a reality.

We stand on the brink of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. While certainly not as significant, theologically, as Easter, it is important because without the birth there could not have been the death and resurrection (that's kind of a "Duh" comment, I know but there you go). It does signify that Jesus was not some weird spiritual creature whose essence we cannot understand. He was a man, a person born of a woman, raised by parents, surrounded by family and friends. His ministry sprang as much from the life of the man Jesus as from the animating Spirit of God.

It is important to remember that sentence in the context of Christmas, as we recall the words of the old prophet Simeon, who was promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. What he saw was a week old infant, being brought to the Temple for blessing; yet he knew, and understood that he could now die in peace, because this tiny infant, most likely still pink and wrinkly, perhaps even crying because he was hungry or cold or hot or tired, was the anointed one (the literal meaning of the Hebrew meshach) of God, delivering the people from slavery to freedom, although not, perhaps, in the way the people might have thought.

Let us enter the following week, as we hustle and bustle, wrap presents, go to parties, get cranky with other drivers, other shoppers, our kids, our spouses, our parents, our siblings that we are about to receive news that should hit us in the same way.

As we go about our daily affairs, let us suddenly, in an instant, be like those who heard the news that Cyrus was releasing the captives. The LORD is, indeed, restoring the fortunes of all of creation. Let us, as we contemplate that, be like those who dream. The moment all of creation has been groaning for (in the words of St. Paul) has finally arrived.

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