Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Rector's Messages

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Lent and Easter 2001

 

"Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning."

 

I managed a short trip to my home town in mid March. It was easy for me to recall how the adventure of winter and the exercise of lent always seemed entwined. Atlantic drift ice besieged the coastline. It silenced the comforting sound of the ocean: it armed the wind with an extra blast of cold. It allied itself with the snow and ice and made the occupation by winter seem permanent and complete. It is an experience many people can identify with this year. The barometer of public opinion seems to agree that this is the winter of our discontent. All of which has us longing for spring as for something made glorious.

 

Lent is about longing. It's about navigating a seemingly endless desert with a destination in view. It's about the people of God who, even in a barren land, crave the fullness of Life. Jesus spends his first forty days of ministry in the wilderness. He enters into solidarity with the people of God in a place where their deepest longings were experienced. Their longings become Christ's longings.

 

One of the most powerful expressions of the longing that leads to faith is found in Psalm 30. It is one of the psalms appointed by the church for use in the Easter season. The psalmist recounts the struggle of a person near the brink of death. The stark nature of suffering is placed alongside the hope for rescue: "Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning" (ps.30:6). The longing of the distressed person is at the center and core of the psalmist's message. This psalm is first about an individual's plaintiff cry for help. However, the psalm eventually becomes an anthem for the people of Israel once restored to freedom after a long captivity. The weeping of being captives is replaced by the joy of a new day in their homeland. It is interesting how the themes of health and deliverance in this psalm become linked with the idea of rejoining a restored community of faith. In the ancient world the sick feared isolation and loneliness as much as nations feared defeat and exile. Restoration to community was a measure of the wholeness of the individual. Restoration of community was a measure of the redemption of the nation. The longing of the individual and the longing of the people shared a common orientation towards God.

 

Lent, the wilderness, winter, the night season, each one points beyond itself for completion and fulfillment. Our deepest longings, if we are attentive to them, may lead us to fulfillment and completion. The psalmist would have us know that our longings lead us to restoration. The Easter faith finds our longings fulfilled in the restoration of resurrection.

 

Archdeacon Rod Gillis