and Easter 2001
may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning."
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.
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.
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.
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.