Gaudate Sunday is upon us. It’s readings traditionally exhort us to the virtue of joy. If you are happy, that’s great, but for the people who come to church anxious, worried, or a little grumpy, Paul’s exhortation to “Rejoice, and again I say, Rejoice!” can be cruelty. It is a little like describing heaven to someone who is not sure that he or she is headed that way at the moment. What we imagine to be the Gospel becomes cruel Law.
It should come as no surprise to the reader that the antidote for this is to focus on Christ and the reasons for our joy. Yet, I need to remind myself and you my reader of this. Our human nature twists the Gospel into Law so readily. The psalm for this week gets this wonderfully right. It too exhorts us to praise the Lord, but it immediately focuses our attention on what God has done. God uplifts the needy, takes up the cause of the helpless, strengthens the weak, and proves to be the dependable bulwark for all who trust in Him.