Friday, April 1, 2016

It Is Still Easter, And Will Remain So For Quite Some Time Yet

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
Sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you,
Sing praises to your name.”

Come and see what God has done:
He is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him, who rules by his might forever,
Whose eyes keep watch on the nations--let the rebellious not exalt themselves.

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
Who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water;
Yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay you my vows, those that my lips uttered
And my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,
With the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer
Or removed his steadfast love from me.
Psalm 66
Reflection – Well, I cannot tell you what a sigh of relief I had when I looked up where I had gotten to in the psalms as I resume this running commentary on them. It would have been a distinct bummer in the Octave of Easter to have had one of the psalms of lamentation or imprecation or some such thing.

As it is, we have Psalm 66, one of the truly great psalms of jubilation, and no better psalm could be found for this Easter Friday. While debates have broken out on the Internet as to whether or not we can eat meat today (my current best understanding is that today is not a day of fasting, but remains a day of abstinence, but I’m not going to the bank on that one), nonetheless it is Easter today, the one great Easter Day that lasts eight days.

And so we are to rejoice, rejoice, rejoice. Christians, do not allow yourself to be mindlessly tugged along by the secular world which considers Easter to be over now—it was that thing with the long weekend last week and the chocolate bunnies and eggs. No, no, a thousand times, no!

Easter itself is eight days long. EIGHT WHOLE DAYS – so don’t stop celebrating the feast of Easter in full until we are on the far side of this coming Sunday. And the Easter season lasts until Pentecost – this year, May 15. It is a season of joy; try to keep that joy going, in some regard.

The Lord has done great things for us—this is what Psalm 66 so beautifully expresses. ‘Come and see what God has done’ – this is the spirit of Easter. And this is the root of Christian joy. It is not some superficial and ultimately silly business of trying to whip ourselves up into an emotional state of frothy good cheer. It is not the Dionysian project of excess and alcohol-fuelled revelry. It is a matter of keeping our eyes, hearts, minds fixed on what God has done for us.

Jesus and His Resurrection, ultimately, and what this means for us—hope of eternal life, the gift of His Spirit, and all that good stuff. But also… the sun. The moon. Trees. Rocks. Dirt. Bugs. And… uhhhh… people! Yeah, that’s a good one – people! And, well, you get the drift. Everything. Everything that is, in the order of creation. And everything He is doing, in the order of grace.

Keep our eyes, hearts, minds fixed on all that stuff all the time. Gratitude flows from that, and from gratitude praise and worship of our God, and from praise and worship of our God, joy. Maybe it’s a quiet reserved joy (we’re not all extroverts bubbling over with our emotions), maybe it’s a more whoop-de-woo kind of joy – no matter.

It is the joy of God, and it flows from the remembrance of God and His mighty deeds. And Psalm 66 captures this call to joy, the movement of jubilation perfectly, and is a grand psalm to keep on our lips and hold in our hearts this Easter season – 50 days, remember.

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