Zechariah 9:9-12 (NRSV)
9Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.
I couldn’t help but sing along with Zechariah. “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion!” is part of my musical memory as part of the standard repertoire for young sopranos. Learning to sing the long, brilliant, lyrical passages on the word “Rejoice” left me happy—and breathless!
Zechariah prophesied a new era as he prepared and longed for Israel’s return to Jerusalem from exile. The musical setting of Handel’s Messiah captures Israel’s longing for worship again in the temple—longing for the time when Israel will take a big breath and sing “Rejoice” together.
During this pandemic isolation I miss worshipping together. I miss singing familiar hymns. I miss our friends. Our loss can leave us wordless, breathless. God remembered Zechariah and Israel. And God promises to remember us—and to come to us in ever new ways, with sighs too deep for words.
Gracious God, remember us. Come to us in our time of loss and whisper words of peace. Amen.