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Summary: A message centered on Psalms 126 It is a song that has three major movements - a. Verses 1-2 Praise the LORD for all He has done b. Verse 3 - praise the LORD here and now c. Verses 4 - 6 challenges us to create a world of joy and fruitfulness

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Scripture: Psalms 126; Isaiah 43:16-21 and John 12:1-8 (Lent Five)

A message centered on Psalms 126 It is a song that has three major movements -

a. Verses 1-2 remind us to praise the LORD for all He has done for us

b. Verse 3 reminds us to praise the LORD in the here and now

c. Verses 4 - 6 challenges us to create a world of joy and fruitfulness

INTRO:

Grace and peace from God our Father and His Son Jesus who came to take away the sin of the world!

Over the next few weeks there is going to be a lot of traveling all over America. March Madness will be underway and we are in the beginning days of both softball and baseball. Millions of people will be traveling by car, by bus and by plane. They will be in those cars and buses for hours traveling from one city to the next. And it will be more than just the teams, it will be cheerleaders, band members, moms and dads, fans and students. I can remember when my high school started playing in all the different basketball tournaments that our pep band will go with them. We would travel to cheer them on and to get the crowd all fired up. In those days when we traveled usually there was someone who would try to get us to sing some songs to pass away the time. All of this was pre- mp3 players and DVD movies.

Do you remember singing any songs as you or your family took a trip? Maybe you were going to a game or perhaps you were on vacation. You wanted to pass some of the time so you would either listen to some music or try to sing some songs. Four of the greatest travel songs according to the Internet over the years has been the following:

Leaving on A Jet Plane (John Denver) , I've Been Everywhere Man (Johnny Cash) ,

Born to Be Wild (Stepppenwolf) On the Road Again (Willie Nelson).

Most of us here this morning have probably heard at least one or two of them or at least have tried to sing one or two of them.

Perhaps you didn't sing one of those but if you were traveling with some children there is a good chance that you might have sang one of these songs:

You are My Sunshine - The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round - Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Now, if you didn't sing one of those - how many of us have at least tried to sing - 99 bottles of beer (milk or coke for the more conservative set) on the wall?

This morning our passage in Psalms 126 is an ancient travel song. It is a part of the collection of pilgrim psalms that we find in the Book of Psalms (Psalms 120 to 134). Psalms 126 would have been sung as the pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the three major festivals (Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). The people would assemble together outside of their town. They would take the necessary time to ritually purify themselves and then under the direction of a pilgrim director would set off on their journey towards Jerusalem. The pilgrimage could take a day or two or as much as a week or more. The northern city of Dan was over 150 miles from Jerusalem. So, those that traveled from the area of Dan would have had to travel for at least 7 - 10 days or more depending on how many small children they were bringing. It took a great deal of commitment in those days to attend one of the festivals.

Along the way the pilgrim director would encourage everyone to sing. He would have with him a number of songs for them to sing and some new ones for them to learn along the way. There were a lot of great reasons why he would have wanted them to sing:

1. By singing they would come together as a group. They would form community.

2. Singing would enable them to take their minds off walking and by walking to the rhythm of music they would actually walk with less effort.

3. Singing was also an excellent way to get their hearts, minds and souls ready to worship and praise God before they got to Jerusalem.

4. Since most of the songs they sang were steeped in scripture, singing was a great way for them to remember the great stories of faith and to learn some new scripture as well.

5. Singing also allowed them to understand that their pilgrimage to Jerusalem was a special time. It was to be a special time to be with the LORD. It was to be a life changing time in all their lives.

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