Advent Week 3: like those who dream

Psalm 126  (NRSV)

A Song of Ascents.  
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dream. 
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
   ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ 
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
   and we rejoiced. 

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
   like the watercourses in the Negeb. 
5 May those who sow in tears
   reap with shouts of joy. 
6 Those who go out weeping,
   bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
   carrying their sheaves.

As I listened to the liturgist read Psalm 126 on Sunday morning, my mind filled with questions.  Who are “those who dream?”  Doesn’t everyone dream?  Why is it that dreams are associated with laughter and joy in this song — after all, aren’t some dreams disturbing?

Is there something about being able to dream, or being able to enjoy your dreams, that the Psalmist wanted to get across?

Many of us don’t get the chance to enjoy our dreams.  If you hit the ground running from the time you wake up, and collapse into bed at the end of the evening, chances are that your dreams (even if they are pleasant) stay forever buried in some deep crevice of the mind:  you simply don’t have time to recall them.

Often, when we do remember a dream, it is a distressing one.  For some reason the dreams that reflect our inner anxiety and suffering are more likely to weigh on us during the waking hours.  Maybe you’d rather forget those dreams.

So, I wonder if what we have in Psalm 126 is a reflection on being human.  When one is in right relationship with God, then everyday activities eating and drinking and dreaming are expressions of joy.  When one is estranged from God, everyday activities only seem to magnify the distance.  “Those who dream” are those who can enjoy God’s gifts on a daily and nightly basis.

This Advent season, we might ask Christ, who is fully human and fully divine, to help us be fully human.  To faithfully enjoy our minds, souls, and bodies — this wonderful combination of gifts given only to us human beings — would indeed be a dream.

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