Laetare Sunday - The fourth Sunday in Lent - Divine Service
Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, 7:45 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
What is Laetare? Laetare (Latin for Rejoice!) is the fourth Sunday in Lent, a Sunday of refreshment in the midst of the fast. On this day, the joy of the upcoming feast of Easter breaks forth and all the appointed propers (readings and prayers) reflect that joy. Christ is the Good Shepherd who knows how to feed his own in the wilderness of this world with miraculous food - food that sustains our faith in Him and His victory over sin and death.
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast.
I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord." [Introit]
Laetare reminds us that after Lent comes joy - the Paschal Joy who is our Risen Lord. Much as Gaudete interrupts Advent to anticipate the joys of the Nativity, so Laetare interrupts Lent to anticipate the joys of the Pascha, our Lord's Resurrection.
In our collect we remember this day that our heavenly Father's mercies are new every morning; and that though we deserve nothing but punishment, He receives us as His children and provides for all our needs of body and soul. We see how richly in the story of the feeding of the 5,000.
But even in that account, the Lord's Passover is not far from the mind. If the disciples had held onto what little He gave them, at the end of the day that's all they'd have had and no miracle at all. But because they did as He bid them, and gave away what they had, they ended up feeding a multitude and collecting 12 baskets of leftovers. In this our Lord teaches us that the joy of life is had in giving it away - and then more life comes to you than you can shake a stick at. So He showed at His passover - and now He lives in a risen life that is the source of our eternal salvation, and which He reaches us in the bread and wine that His words bless and give us as His body and blood!
The Lord Feeds His People - He who is Himself the living bread from heaven miraculously provides bread for the five thousand (John 6:1-15). This takes place near the time of the Passover, after a great multitude had followed Jesus across the sea, and when He went up on a mountain. Five loaves become twelve baskets-that is, the five books of Moses find the goal and fulfillment in Christ, whose people continue steadfastly in the doctrine and fellowship of the twelve apostles, and in the breaking and receiving of the bread of life, which is the body of Christ together with His precious, blood, and in the prayers
(Acts 2:41-47). So it is that God's people "shall not hunger or thirst" (Isaiah 49:8-13). For He abundantly provides for us in both body and soul.
I was glad when they | said to me,*
“Let us go to the house | of the LORD!”
Peace be with- | in your walls*
and security within your | towers!
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount | Zion,*
which cannot be moved, but abides for- | ever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his | people,*
from this time forth and forevermore. Peace be upon | Israel!