Jesus warns, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will arrest you and persecute you” (Luke 21:10-12). We will endure this trial not by our own strength, but by trust. “Make up your minds,” Jesus says, “not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:14-15). Unprepared, we conduct our private and public lives trusting that God will lead us into all truth and provide all necessary protection. Trust is a form of love, and love casts out all fear.
“Surely, it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will be my Savior” (Cant. 9). Such trust grows by cultivation, by repeated exposure to the graces of God encountered at every turn. Just as we are summoned in the collect of the day “to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the words of Scripture, we are called to ingest the living Word of God, the Lord Jesus, as he presents himself in countless ways in his church and in the world. We are with him. He is with us. He abides in us, and we in him.
Drawing upon the graces of God, we find more than mere endurance. “For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and he will by my Savior. Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation” (Cant. 9). Rejoicing is not a defense, but it is a protest. It is a protest against the oppressive and false adult seriousness that robs life of joy and purpose. Rejoicing makes one strong and nimble, light and elegant. “Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world. Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel” (Cant. 9).
Joy is a neglected necessity. Lift up your hearts! “I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people” (Is. 65:18-19). Jesus is the joy of the Father, the one in whom the Father is well pleased. Living in Christ, we live in the eternal gaze of the Father’s love. We are the Father’s joy and are filled with jubilation. A response bursts forth. “Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands; lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing. Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the voice of song. With trumpets and the sound of horns shout with joy before the king, the Lord. Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, the lands and those who dwell therein. Let the rivers clap their hands, and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord” (Ps. 98:5-9).
The seas make a noise and the rivers clap their hands. What will we do with our tongues and our hands and our lives? Will we sing with jubilation? Will the heart beat and skip a beat and love and love even more? Even in silence, the heart may sing and rejoice, and live in hope and trust. Joy has come in Christ. He lives forevermore. Go on in trust and hope, and dance before the Lord.
Look It Up: The collect
Think About It: A blessed hope is joyful.