Worship With Gladness
The invitation to worship beckons this morning. To gather among the bride of Christ fixing our eyes on his Word, offering a sacrifice of reverent praise and adoration, and encouraging those with us.
As the season changes around us, we observe the turning of the leaves, once firm and green, now yellow and curled up. This colorful transformation is vivid, signaling a turning point in the year.
During the time of Esther, Jews experienced heroic rescue, a significant turning point in their history, from an edict of utter destruction,“as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor” (Est 9:22).
The Lord intervenes in his timing - and in his way - to preserve his people. Their painful sorrow turns to lighthearted gladness, and their tears of mourning into joyful celebration. Those once thought lost were now preserved, what seemed an ending became a new beginning, and the pervasive darkness surrounding them, transformed by the light of hope.
Just as we, too, were caught in darkness, destined for destruction, stuck in bondage to sin, the great mercy of God intervenes for us. He sent his son into the world, to proclaim freedom, forgiveness and redemption; “to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Is 61:3).This is our rescue and our salvation, the ongoing gift of grace poured out to us.
Perhaps it’s easy to forget.
When one of my children has a birthday, there’s a countdown and parties, to their unabashed delight. However, when it comes to my own there’s a sense of indifference hovering, even in the celebration.
Whether it’s because I don’t want the reminder of getting older or because life is too busy or, like this year, I have a shift at work, apathy sets in if I’m not intentional.
Mordecai and Esther establish the celebration of Purim, “that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation” (Est 9:28), remembering what God had done to save them – a purposeful plan to look back. In the same way, Christ broke the bread during the last supper, taking a sip of wine, instructing his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).An event of sacred significance, rehearsing the gospel again to ourselves as we participate in remembrance: our own transformation from bondage to freedom (Gal 5:1), from wearing dirty, ragged clothes to dressed in splendor (Zech 3), from distant separation to invited near (Eph 2:13).
We gather on this day, to remember his resurrection, to worship the God who choose to be among us, who has “turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Ps 30:11).
Let’s worship with gladness in our hearts today, of Christ’s sacrifice for us, our new identity in him, and the eternal hope we carry.