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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Gyre, 2009, Copyright © Chris Jordan

The past, present and future God of reversals. This is who we worship on Easter. And this is whom Psalm 118 identifies as the transforming power who delivers what our world craves. Thank the good Lord! God’s love never runs out! Let this be the broken-record’s refrain: God’s love endures forever!

The essence of God’s character is brightly visible on Easter, the day on which the Lord has acted, the day we shout out-loud that God’s steadfast love endures forever, the day we sing in victory that God is still acting, is still for us. God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt in the great Exodus; God delivered the nation scattered by the Babylonians from exile; God delivered Jesus from death to resurrection and God is delivering us from the threats that seek to swallow us in death’s tight grip. God has saved in the past and God will save again.

Marvel and be moved. That is the invitation of this Psalm; an open-ended prayer of praise and petition applicable in all generations. Renewably contextual to every generation who recognizes God has delivered in the past, God delivers now, God will deliver again. All the saints have sung this song and will sing it well into the future. This is a prayer to be prayed physically while on the move, embodying the search for and encounter of the God whose transformative power is not just visible but accessible to all of us, forever and ever. Our only appropriate response is thanksgiving. When was the last time your church offered physical and embodied thanks on Easter? Have you moved too quickly from empty tomb to egg hunt?

On Easter a prayer like the one framed in Psalm 118 gives individuals and communities the space to explore the drastic, unexpected nature of God’s reversals throughout history. As The Message paraphrases the ancient prayer, “The hand of God has turned the tide!” We join the prayers of generations, to give thanks for personal deliverance and universal salvation. To enthusiastically exalt the unending nature of God’s love. To advocate for admittance with the righteous through the gate of the Lord. To cry out, yet again, “Save us, O Lord!” To embody the kind of trust that knows God’s light will flood the future. To recall that just like Jesus, we shall not die, but live to recount what the Lord has done. To praise God for answering our cries for deliverance, for becoming our salvation. To, as the first and last phrases of the Psalm holler with joy, “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

The Psalmist asks for admittance into the Lord’s presence, through the “gates of righteousness.” We petition the same on Easter: “open the gates!” We want in where the godly are gathered, where the presence of the Lord is, so we can go in and thank God for granting us victory! Easter after all, is the celebration of access. God’s deliverance of Jesus from death grants us this access: directly and immediately. Open gates; open tomb.