By Leanna Coyle-Carr, pastoral resident
In both of the church’s penitential seasons there is a special Sunday halfway through. In Advent, we light a pink candle on Gaudate Sunday, remembering to rejoice amidst our preparations and active waiting for Christ. Similarly, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, purple vestments can turn to pink. “Latare!” says a voice of old:
Rejoice, O Jerusalem,
and come together all you that love her;
Rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow,
that you may exult and be filled
from the breasts of your consolation.
I rejoiced when they said to me:
“We shall go into God’s House!”
This chant was the first word of worship, a whisper that would begin at the back of the sanctuary as leaders processed step by step down the aisle. Latare — rejoice. Sorrow to joy, nothing to nourishment. Come, have your fill in the house of the Lord.
We are unable to sit in the house of the Lord today. Sorrow feels close as we wait out a virus that could wound or even kill. We are separated out of love for one another and concern for the world. We know we are doing the right thing by staying at home, but today does not feel like a day for rejoicing.
And yet it is still Latare Sunday. It is still a day set apart to remind generation after generation that despite the challenges of the season, joy can be found. Despite the limits of our situation, we can draw what we need from God’s embrace. We cannot gather together physically in a sanctuary. We cannot greet one another with holy hugs or high fives. We cannot join one and all around a table.
But it is still Latare Sunday.
The church can be a stubborn mother. Those generations before us insist that we can have this this hour, this moment, this breath for worship and joy. Like a nursling, they say, we can let ourselves crawl into the arms of God and find what we need for today.
There’s the joy.
Just now, as we prepare for worship, let us find our way in. Pull on something pink. Go about, slowly. Stretch your body. Smell the roses. Tend to the ways of beauty and joy; let consolation fill your belly with good things.
For surely, to paraphrase the psalmist, come hell or highwater, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.