by Evan R. Christensen, former Summer Ministry Team member
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
The chorus of Debbie Friedman’s song “Sow in Tears, Reap in Joy” offers one of my favorite renditions of Psalm 126. She is a Jewish singer-songwriter, and while her work is mostly sung among Jewish settings, I first heard this song sung by a preacher who visited United Lutheran Seminary during Advent my first semester of study. The text being preached was this Psalm, and the pastor sang the chorus, “Those who sow, will sow in tears, will reap, will reap in joy,” as a refrain to each point of her sermon. The words echoed from the pulpit and resonated deep into my heart. The advent season is a time of waiting and yearning for the coming birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a unique space of already and not yet. And for me during that season, the stress of a closing semester, missing home, and reflecting on changes over the past year weighed heavy in my gut. Two years later, and these same feelings are magnified, not only for me but all of us.
It does not take 20/20 vision to recognize the pain, stress, and mourning we have burdened this year. This advent season and the coming Christmastide will surely be different as all this year has been. And yet, God remains present with us in the coming Emmanuel (God is with us). We can witness the promise of Jesus Christ in the psalmist’s cries: “Your tears, your worry, your pain—these are the seeds which will grow. In these seeds, God is at work. Shouts of Joy for the Lord will sprout from these seeds!” We do not weep alone, and we do not rejoice alone, but we sow our tears and shout with joy through the love of the son Jesus Christ. Through him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God turns our mourning into laughter, and we are freed from our burdens to love and serve God and one another. And for this, we give thanks, both in our weeping and in our joy.