Monday of Easter III – Prayer of the Week

O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

As a pastor it has been my privilege to preside at quite a few weddings. As a professor I got to do some more. Weddings are fun. I enjoy them. I especially like pre-marital counseling, getting to know these young people and talking about their wedding day and what happens next. It is that next part that sometimes gets interesting. I find that a lot of folks get wrapped up in the planning for a big day but do not really put half as much thought into what happens over the subsequent decades.

This prayer notices that we have been rescued from everlasting death. That is Easter Day and its corollary at the end of time when we are all raised from death. We have been rescued from the peril of death, but now what? The prayer is for what happens next. We pray for perpetual gladness and eternal joy. That is important. For an eternal life on the trajectory in which I find my current sin-filled life would not be heavenly, it would be hellish. If I lived forever but sinned like I do now, within a century or so I would probably be ostracized from community, lonely and doomed to an eternal loneliness.

We pray for eternal joy. In order to have that joy I will have to be a different sort of person. And so we might come back to the first sentence of this prayer. Through Jesus’ humiliation on the cross and in his death, God has raised up the fallen world. That raising is not just making me alive and restoring to me a physical health which sin, age, time, disease, or violence has taken from me. It means rebuilding me from the ground up. God has a great deal of raising up to do in us. Praise him today. He answers this prayer. In lives gifted with Christ’s forgiveness, patience, kindness, and humility, we get a taste of that eternal joy and perpetual gladness today, a taste which will become a great feast on the last day.

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