“But Joy Comes with the Morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2020

“But Joy Comes with the Morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

This is our traditional Easter greeting. But this year has been anything but traditional. When last we met here, eight weeks ago today, it was still Lent. Easter Day was four weeks ago, so we didn’t get to say it then. But today we are still in the Easter season, and this is our first opportunity to say it together, so let’s do it again with gusto:

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Amen! And this reality is what gives us hope and joy, in the midst of any sadness. The resurrection of Christ on Easter morning tells us that what Jesus did on the cross for us really works! His sacrifice for our sins has been accepted by God, and the resurrection is the big “Amen!” affirming our forgiveness. The resurrection of our Lord gives us the sure hope that we who have been baptized into Christ will likewise share in his resurrection. What hope, what joy, this gives us!

This joy is greater than, and overcomes, any sadness we experience. Think of the sadness, the overwhelming sadness and gloom that gripped Jesus’ disciples after his crucifixion. The Emmaus disciples, for instance. Their faces were downcast, it says. Their hopes were crushed. Everything they were hoping for with Jesus–gone, thinking that the death of their master meant it was all over. But Jesus surprised them, didn’t he? Or the women at the tomb that Easter morning. They went there sorrowful, expecting to find a dead body. But God had a surprise in store for them. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” That’s the verse that sets the tone for us this morning. It’s Psalm 30:5, a verse from the Introit we sang earlier. And I just love this verse. It tells me that whatever bad stuff I’m going through at the moment, God has something beautiful in store for me to follow. This promise from God’s word gives me hope for the future and joy in the here and now. And today I pray it does the same for you also. Weeping may tarry for the night, “But Joy Comes with the Morning.”

This is a theme running through the Bible. Abraham and Sarah had gone into old age childless, but God surprised them with a son of promise. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for many years, but God brought them out of bondage and brought them into the Promised Land. Later, the people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon and were exiles there for seventy years, but God set them free and brought them home. “The LORD sets the prisoners free,” as we read in Psalm 146. “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” And this is the same God in whom is all our help and all our hope.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The world lay in darkness until the coming of Christ. Deep, thick darkness lay over the earth. Ignorance of God. Despising of his ways. Folly and idolatry and unrighteousness. Death was the shroud enveloping the nations. Tears and much weeping over the damage that sin has wrought among us, over the hurt that we humans do to one another.

But then Christ came. The Son of God came into this world, into our hall of darkness, to undo the damage. He came as our brother, one of us, God in the flesh. Jesus fulfills what Isaiah had prophesied: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” And that light is Christ himself. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus says. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” And that “whoever” is you, dear brother and sister. You are one who follows Jesus in faith, trusting in him to be your light and your life. In him is life, and this life is the light of men. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” And Jesus is our bright morning star. He is the dawn who illumines our days. Our risen Lord has conquered all our foes and relieved all our fears. We have nothing to fear, for Christ is with us. “For lo, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are baptized in the name of the triune God. Whatever may happen to us, we’re OK. More than OK. We are safe and secure in our Father’s arms. He has claimed us as his children, and he is watching over us and taking care of us. No virus, no misfortune, can snatch us out of his hands.

Jesus is our Savior. He will not mislead us. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” he says, and Jesus proves true to his words. He is telling you the truth this morning, when he will say to you in a few moments, “This is my body, this is my blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” “Let not your hearts be troubled.” You have nothing to fear from this sacrament. Indeed, you have everything to gain from it, everything to rejoice in it!

Luther writes in the Large Catechism: “We must never think of the Sacrament as something harmful from which we had better flee, but as a pure, wholesome, comforting remedy that grants salvation and comfort. It will cure you and give you life both in soul and body. For where the soul has recovered, the body also is relieved. Why, then, do we act as if the Sacrament were a poison, the eating of which would bring death?”

Friends, this blessed sacrament of Christ’s body and blood is the very medicine of immortality. No vaccine, no therapeutic, can match what Jesus gives you here. Christ has redeemed you in both body and soul, and this sacrament is his sacred pledge of it, assuring you that even as he has redeemed your soul, so also he will redeem your body, raising it up on the last day. “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”

The heavenly Father is your Father. His Son, Jesus Christ, is your Savior. And the Holy Spirit is your guide and comforter. Through the gospel means of Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit is always leading you to Christ, pointing you to him. Through these means of grace, the Spirit continues to strengthen your faith, refresh your soul, and renew you in love for God and love for neighbor. How we need the Word of God! Thank God that we have still been able to receive the Word over these last eight weeks, albeit not in person here at church. But the Holy Spirit has quenched our thirst during this time of exile. And now we are back, back here in church, back home where we belong. “The LORD sets the prisoners free.”

Yes, this is where we belong. Here in church. Here in the assembly of believers. Here where Jesus promises to be with us: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Christians are meant to be together. As we sang in the Introit: “Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!” In the assembly of the godly, not in isolation! Christians are meant to be together. We are the body of Christ, the church is. And the body is not meant to be dismembered, but joined together, functioning as a unit. We need one another. We need to know one another, see one another, listen to one another, to function as the body. “What God has joined together, let man not put asunder.” So, what a joy it is to finally be back together!

“The LORD sets the prisoners free.” Our long night of house arrest is over. We are free at last. Free, in ways much greater than simply coming out of shutdown. Today we are reopening the church. But greater still, Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. He is our hope and our joy. He is our light and our life. And he is here today, for you.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Let me hear you! Weeping may tarry for the night . . . (But joy comes with the morning!) The long night of sin and death is over, my friends! Jesus Christ is our bright morning star. He is our hope and our joy. He is our light and our life. Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Published in: on May 9, 2020 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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