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]
Lent has been rather peaceful and joy-filled for me this year. I love the extra time gathering as a congregation to pray Evening Prayer and hear the Passion. But 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!