ALMIGHTY God, Who showest to them that be in error the light of Thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
--Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”
Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”
Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
--John 16.16-23 (NKJV)
Today's epistle reading reminds us that we are 'sojourners and pilgrims' in this world (1 Pet 2.11). As we journey, Jesus tells us that we will weep and lament in the face of a gloating world. Increasingly, we see this each and every day, even here in the U.S. where historically Christians were not largely viewed with disdain or open hostility. As our culture gets farther and farther from the collective memory and influence of its Christian heritage, it beckons us forsake (eschew) our faith and participate in things that are contrary to it. Things are getting darker and darker for those seeking to faithfully follow Christ in the way of righteousness.
Take heart! Jesus' words also give us comfort. "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you" (John 16.22). That is a promise we look forward to, even when it looks like an impossible dream. His promises will not fail. There is a land of pure delight that awaits his saints for all of eternity. Thanks be to God!
"There is a Land of Pure Delight" (Isaac Watts)
There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.
There everlasting spring abides,
And never-with’ring flowers:
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heavenly land from ours.
Sweet fields, beyond the swelling flood,
Stand dressed in living green:
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.
But timorous mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea,
And linger, shivering, on the brink,
And fear to launch away.
O could we make our doubts remove,
Those gloomy doubts that rise,
And view the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes!
Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o’er,
Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
Should fright us from the shore.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash