Sowing and harvesting

Sermon on Psalm 126

Thanksgiving service, , automatically translated , Evangelical Free Church congregation Leichlingen


I would like to look at a Psalm with you today, Psalm 126; NGÜ

1 A pilgrimage song sung on the way up to Jerusalem. When the Lord sent us back from captivity to Zion, it was as if we were dreaming. 2 We laughed and shouted with joy. Even among the other nations people said, "The Lord has done great things for them!" 3 Yes, great things the Lord has done for us, therefore we rejoice greatly! 4 Lord, turn our fortunes to good now too, just as you fill the dried-up streams in the south country with water again! 5 He who sows the seed with tears will reap the harvest with joy. 6 The sower now goes weeping over the field, carrying with him the seed for sowing. Then he comes home from the harvest full of joy, his arm full of sheaves.

Obviously it is a song, a song of which we unfortunately no longer have the melody.

I don't know what goes through your minds when you hear "pilgrimage song". A pilgrimage is a regular journey to a to a special place. Maybe the whole family was on the way and there was singing. The old people sing along enthusiastically because the song reminds them of their childhood, while the teenagers look annoyed: this old song again, every year.

Some people may also have church hymns in front of their ears, where an organ drowns out the mournful, languid singing of the few people of the few worshippers.

Perhaps this song also had a melody that all generations liked, so that everyone sang along.

I believe that God wants us to sing songs that we also like. People's tastes are different, but you can still but it is possible to get a little bit involved in each other's musical preferences.

But today it is not about the unknown melody, but about the content of this psalm.

And we want to get into the first half.

Longing for the homeland

I read the first three verses again:

When the Lord sent us back to Zion from captivity, it was as if we were dreaming. 2 We laughed and shouted with joy. Even among the other nations people said, "The Lord has done great things for them!" 3 Yes, great things the Lord has done for us, therefore we rejoice greatly!

Obviously, the return home to Israel is being sung about here, after an expulsion. It is important to know that throughout the history of history of Israel there have been repeated expulsions of large parts of the population. However, God has always given opportunities to return. to return. This is described, for example, in the Book of Ezra and in the Book of Nehemiah.

The joy of such a homecoming becomes clear here. It is like a dream, they cannot believe it. This return is so inconceivable that even the other peoples recognise what a great thing has happened here. The other nations even recognise God's work in this.

They had been displaced, perhaps their homes had been destroyed. There was no hope of return, but the longing remained. remained. Displaced persons from the East, who had to disappear with bag and baggage within a short time, can perhaps understand this better. understand this better. Some of today's refugees were not only persecuted, but also really driven away and could certainly understand this text. certainly understand this text well.

Rationally speaking, a return seems impossible. That is why the miracle was so great.

Why is this story in the Bible? Or to put it another way: To what extent does this story affect us today? The Old Testament is the picture book of God. The stories in the Old Testament all really happened and some episodes are even some episodes are even very cruel, nothing is left out of the depths of man. They are not given to us as instructions for action - apart from some commandments - but to make us understand facts from the kingdom of God, sometimes very pictorially. sometimes very pictorially, to make them understandable.

I think these first three verses of this Psalm are about heaven.

Bible readers know heaven from the New Testament, e.g. from John 14:1-6, where Jesus Christ speaks about it:

1 "Do not let anything shake your faith," Jesus said to his disciples, "trust in God and trust in me. 2 In my Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, would I have said to you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I have prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way that leads to where I am going." 5 "Lord," said Thomas, "we don't even know where you are going. How then are we to know the way to get there?" - 6 "I am the way," Jesus replied, "I am the truth, and I am the life. You can only get to the Father through me.

The Christian rock singer Keith Green once pointed out that God took seven days to make the world. and Jesus has been preparing the place for us for almost 2000 years. So if I do the maths, heaven must be almost 300 times better than earth. must be almost 300 times better than the earth.

Jesus is speaking into a particular situation. The disciples have not yet really understood that Jesus, as a man, will leave the earth. will leave the earth. But they somehow notice that something will change and they are afraid of that. Now Jesus promises them a better place, heaven, and he emphasises again in verse 6 that the way to get there is through him. leads: Without Jesus Christ, no heaven!

The people who have given their lives to Jesus are already connected to Jesus, seek his closeness through prayer, Bible reading, songs, worship and also experience that Jesus is with them. Bible reading, through songs, through worship and also experience that Jesus is with them.

But the longing for heaven is difficult for me personally.

I like it here. I like living with my family, in my house, I also like my work. I guess I think too earthly.

Paul probably understood it more at that time. In Philippians 1 he describes his thoughts on this (v. 21-24; NGÜ):

21 Because the content of my life is Christ, and 'therefore' dying is a gain for me. 22 On the other hand, as long as I still live here on earth, I can do a work that bears fruit. Therefore, I do not know what I should prefer. 23 I am torn: I would prefer to leave earthly life behind and be with Christ; that would be best by far. 24 But you still need me, and therefore - of this I am convinced - it is more important that I continue to stay here on earth.

He had written this from captivity and had probably therefore also dealt with the end of his life. There is no longing for death here, but he simply wants to be close to Jesus Christ. He really had this He really had this longing for heaven and probably this longing was also favoured by his bad treatment in prison.

I find this longing for heaven more difficult than Paul, because - as I said - I like it here. And I think I'm not alone. And here we come back to our psalm:

When the Lord sent us back to Zion from captivity, it was as if we were dreaming. 2 We laughed and shouted with joy. Even among the other nations people said, "The Lord has done great things for them!" 3 Yes, great things the Lord has done for us, therefore we rejoice greatly!

Here this inconceivable thing comes through. A lost, sorely missed home is suddenly back. This is what heaven will be like. It will be.., It'll be like we're dreaming. We will laugh and rejoice loudly. The Lord has done great things for us. This dwelling in God's house will be gigantic and beyond all our imagination.

Our skill

Let us go further in the Psalm.

4 Lord, turn our fortunes to good now, just as you fill the dried-up streams in the southland with water again!

As already mentioned, the psalm was apparently written after a return home, but things were probably not going so well at the time. otherwise one would not have to ask God to turn things around for the better.

I'm sure we all know that things go badly, whether it's relationship issues, money issues or other problems. problems. In Israel there are rain-free months, June to September, and especially in the south of Israel there is little rain anyway. Therefore, many streams will dry up completely during this time. And that, of course, looks pretty bleak and hopeless. However, the Israelites knew that it would rain again, and if God had arranged the seasons in such a way that the dead rivers would be able to flow again. that the dead rivers come to life again, then he can also change things for the better. Then it does not have to be remain bleak or even hopeless.

Of course, you have to be careful that you don't get into a "It'll be alright!" kind of rut or like. "Better times will come again!"

The psalmist is clearly addressing God here. Not a "It will be alright" or a "It should always have been alright", but a "Lord help". "Lord, help".

This is an important point, which we as Christians should of course also consider from time to time.

Do we still need God's help, or do our dried-up streams always fill up with water again on their own anyway?

Do we even notice that we need God's help? Perhaps someone is also confusing the arid land with good weather. All is well, everything can stay as it is, nothing should change if possible.

There is hope through awareness of problems and by then turning to the Lord God.

Sowing and harvesting

How problematic the situation was can be seen in the following verses (Psalm 126, 5.6; NGÜ):

5 He who sows the seed with tears will reap the harvest with joy. 6 The sower now goes weeping over the field, carrying with him the seed for sowing. Full of rejoicing he comes home from the harvest, his arm full of sheaves.

The Luther translation says: Those who sow with tears will reap with joy.

Tears already point to a problem: sowing with tears.

As a contrast, I have brought a mushroom growing kit here. This can be described as agriculture for lazy city dwellers. lazy city dwellers. I live in the village and we have a garden, but I don't have much to do with sowing and harvesting, apart from sometimes harvesting pears and cherries. except sometimes harvesting pears and cherries. This set, however, can be done without any effort or tears. Ready-made substrate with mushroom spores is supplied and you tip the moist soil on top, which is also supplied already moist. After 14 days you can already see the mushrooms and after about four weeks you can harvest. Then you really have to put in a bit of work to get two or three more harvests.

The first set I had, I was too tranig for it, so I got nothing after the first rich harvest. This time I set out to get everything out of it that I could.

But it doesn't have so much to do with effort, tears. We, me too, would sometimes like to have our life as such a ready-made harvest package. You only have to do a little and you get a rich harvest. Everything happens by itself and nothing can go wrong.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes/often different. You work, you put yourself out there, and yet somehow everything seems to crumble. Efforts, tears, you have no choice. You have to function. Perhaps others also depend on you economically so that one's own perceived failure also affects others.

Sowing with tears: how great must be the sorrow and the burden to do the work while weeping!

I wish I could promise everyone now that their burden, their weeping, will turn into joy after a year at the latest. into joy. That would be such a literal view of this Psalm. First I turn to God and then he will make everything good. the harvest will be great and I will rejoice.

What I can promise is that God is there. Jesus said at the end of the Gospel of Matthew: "Be sure, I am with you every day until the end of the world." Before that, he gives the order to take the message of him to the whole to the whole world, to baptise and to make disciples. Ultimately, this is also the mission of the church.

And the basis for this, and this is also the basis of every Christian life, is that Jesus Christ is with us every day.

The time until rejoicing can be long. Some of the Israelites had to wait several hundred years before they were allowed to return to their homeland. homeland.

At the beginning of the last church leadership coaching we talked about our favourite Bible passages and one of my favourites fits very well here. favourite Bible passages fits very well here (Hebrews 6:18b-20a; LUTHER):

18b It is impossible for God to lie - we have a strong consolation, who have taken refuge in holding fast to the hope offered. 19 This we have as a sure and steadfast anchor of our soul, reaching even into the inner parts behind the veil. 20a Into it has gone the forerunner for us, Jesus, who has become a high priest for ever and ever.

I once had this text explained to me that this is an image from seafaring. When a large ship wants to enter a harbour port and it is not so easy, then a small boat brings the anchor into the port and anchors the ship there. anchored there. Now the ship can be pulled into the harbour despite waves and wind and arrive there.

Jesus is our anchor for eternity, for heaven. We are still outside, in waves, wind or storm. And often enough, everything makes us weep. But Jesus holds us and brings us to our destination. And there, at the latest, we will rejoice.