Adult Sunday School. Lenten Series. Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy. Kerygma Study of Brahms German Requiem. Chapter 1. How can those who mourn a great loss be blessed?

The first movement of Brahams’ German Requiem consists of these passages.

Matthew 5, 4     Blessed are those who carry sorrow (mourn), for they will be comforted.

Psalm 126, 6       Those who go out weeping,
 bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,

carrying their sheaves.


How can those who mourn the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a career feel blessed or happy? Often we seek to deny or avoid pain, and may tell others to do so. “Don’t cry.” ”Get over it.”  If we are experiencing grief, the idea that we are blessed or happy may seem insane or insulting. Many come to think seriously about the nature of a God who permits or perhaps even causes the loss to happen, finding this God is not to be trusted.

Jesus himself wept for his dead friend Lazarus (John 11), and for Jerusalem (Luke 13, 34-35). He understood grief and suffering. So how did he also speak the Beatitudes which can seem so contradictory? One explanation is that the Beatitudes describe a resurrected world where the reign of God had come near.

Psalm 126 begins

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
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.”
The Lord has done great things for us,

    and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears

    reap with shouts of joy.

This Psalm was written by the Jewish exiles who had previously mourned the destruction of Jerusalem, the demolition of the temple, the end of their nation, and their being taken in captivity to Babylon. But God surprises us, bringing life out of death.


Listen to Brahms German Requiem at


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