The pilgrims went to Jerusalem. Once a year, at least. They set out from wherever they lived, heading up to Jerusalem. On this trip, they sang. It was, after all, a holiday, a camping trip, a time for family, for friends, for rest.
Just like any family camp has a dog-eared songbook, so too the travelers. We have them collected for us in the Old Testament hymnal called Psalms. When you look at Psalms 120-134, you see a little under the number: “A song of ascents”. They are songs for the journey, songs that were sung by walkers and campers and travelers.
One of them is particularly suited for a day like today. Psalm 127 starts like this:
Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
A holiday, a day off, a sabbath, a festival is an act of faith. It is an act of trust. It is an act of perspective. These travelers, thinking about the work back home, the construction orders piling up, the weaving and baking and carpentry and masonry, may have been tempted to worry. They may have lain awake planning the work for when they got back home. They may have been troubled by what would happen with the business or the farm or the family while they were gone.
That’s why this song was in the hymnal. They were on a God trip, heading to Jerusalem because He told them to. This song says that career and business, farm and family, are in God’s hands. We can worry, changing nothing. Or we can gratefully rest.
Happy Labor Day.