“Those who sow with tears reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” – Psalm 126:5-6
The psalm writer obviously needs a lesson in karma: getting what you give; reaping what you sow; smiling and the world smiles back at you—all that. Sure, gardening is therapeutic, but whoever heard of watering seeds with your own tears and expecting a bountiful, joy-inducing harvest? And why are we focusing on this weepy text during the “hap-happiest season of all?” in the “most wonderful time of year”?
Maybe it’s because the very first Christmas was also awash in tears.
Joseph, when he wasn’t fit-to-be-tied over his betrothed’s “situation,” certainly shed a few tears. Mary’s parents probably mourned their daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy. If Mary shared her vision of the angel, mom and dad cried some more, concerned that Mary was more than just dreamy. Mary, no doubt, did her share of weeping. The birth of Christ, about whom the angels sang with joy, was preceded by a rainstorm of tears.
Even today, Christmas can be a teary time. Financial hardships, family turmoil, grief and loss, all become more acute during the holidays. Could it be that our tears also prepare the way for the advent of Christ? Psalm 126 and the gospel answer with a resounding YES!
So today we can say to our tears, ‘Tears, I feel you. Flow if you must. But I will do what I need to do (the dishes, the laundry, the difficult job, the hard conversation, the sermon) trusting that the simple work of sowing seeds, watered and baptized by my own tears, will bring sheaves of blessing. The Bible tells me so.”
God, thank you for creating a world where there is no water more holy, or more fertile, than tears. May I trust you as the master gardener of my life.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.