Psalm 118: Still Celebrating
Yesterday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus in great and grand style. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The refrain rang out throughout the services at our church. The choir sang, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again!” We heard the account of Jesus’ resurrection from Mark 16 and from John 20. We had heard the full account of Jesus’ suffering and death before our Good Friday services. It was powerful. Diane told me she could barely sing, “And Can it Be” that night. I had little trouble with that. But somehow when we began singing, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” I couldn’t get the words out. So powerful was the message of Jesus’ victory.
I’ve been thinking about tears lately, and the very few times I have been moved to tears. I recall fighting back the tears at my sister’s funeral. When a good friend died, I had to gather myself before I could continue sharing the message of Jesus’ salvation at his funeral. I was also brought to tears when the depth of Jesus’ grace touched my heart in a Christian counselor’s office.
There is a powerful example of this in the movie, The Mission. The reformed slave trader, Rodrigo Mendoza, climbs a mountain trailing a load of his riches in a large net attached by a long rope. At the end of the laborious climb in a dramatic moment, one of the natives – a former slave(?) – cuts the rope and pushes the burden off the cliff into the river. Rodrigo bursts into tears when the burden is cut. Sometimes tears come in the face of good news. When relief is so desperately needed and received, the soul can be released to express joy with tears.
Psalm 118 is a great Easter psalm. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever. Steadfast love. Pure goodness. God’s making of each day. Redemption. These are the makings of the purest joy.
And there is a promise for those of us who are deeply touched by this goodness, favor, favor, and grace. Surprisingly, it is the same promise for those who weep because of the hardships they face. Whether death, loneliness, hardship, illness, betrayal, or guilt and shame of past sin, there is a promise to those who weep.
“He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4). In either case the goodness of God and his steadfast love are a powerful tool to bring tears, and comfort. And so we pray…
15 Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16 the right hand of the Lord exalts,
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.[b]
23 This is the Lord‘s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.