Thanks for joining me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 3rd Sunday of Easter.
May your people exult for ever, O God, in renewed youthfulness of spirit, so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption, we may look forward in confident hope to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
The first time I read this prayer, my first thoughts were, “this is really vanilla.” Then I started asking myself some questions, like, “what are we like before we are renewed in youthfulness of spirit?” and “is there a connection between exulting for ever and rejoicing now?”
In answer to the first question, a name came to mind: Jacob Marley. Strange thought, wasn’t it? However, Jacob Marley is a great example of what we are before we are renewed. If you remember in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley is a business partner of Scrooge. Marley appears to Scrooge one Christmas Eve, wearing a heavy chain. He tells Scrooge that this is the chain he forged in life. He made it link by link, and yard by yard. By his free will he constructed it and by his free will he wore it.
Each link in Marley’s chain was a wrong decision, a bad choice, a sin, or a wound. This chain, invisible in life, he will wear for eternity in his death. He then tells Scrooge that he is carrying his own chain as well, and his is a “ponderous chain” because it is slow and clumsy due to it’s great weight.
I don’t know about you, but at this point, I was thinking, “Yeah, I don’t want that.” I’ve got great news, though, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we don’t have to carry a chain, we have been renewed.
It’s Mr. Scrooge that gives us the example of exulting. He wakes up on Christmas morning a new man. His chain is gone. He sees that life isn't about bitterness and hurt. The angel visitors from the night before have walked him through those wrongs and wounds, he’s been healed. He now lives to right his wrongs, he is filled with joy, so filled with joy that it overflows to everyone around him. The people wonder, “What happened to him?”
There’s another lesson that Scrooge and I have discovered, and it answered my question about exulting for ever and rejoicing now. The answer is this: eternal life starts now. The chain that Marley wore was forged in his life on earth. The healing that Scrooge found broke his chain. When he recognized the result of his actions and repented, the path of Scrooge’s efforts led to a life of joy, the kind of joy began that Christmas morning and continues into eternity.
In our Easter celebrations, we are to recognize that our chains have been broken. Because of that, the joy we hope to experience forever in heaven doesn’t begin when we die: it begins here today. What is required of us is that we are to let God break the chain, we lay it down, and accept the forgiveness and love of God. We can begin rejoicing in our new-found youthfulness of spirit - just like Mr. Scrooge.
Lectio the Liturgy: To look forward to the rejoicing of the resurrection, we must be renewed in spirit and live a life of exultation, or rejoicing, that is living in youthfulness of spirit. Check yourself for any attitudes or habits that need to be changed. Look for someone in your life who lives in joy. If you can’t think of someone - then you’re probably the one called to bring joy to others.
Thanks for praying with me,