Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-10
“. . . my heart is joyful because of my God, . . .” Isaiah 61:10
Joy is a good word. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines Joy as “the emotion evoked by wellbeing.” It is interesting to me that people don’t seem to use the word “joy” in their common communications each day. When asked, “How are you?” the answer is usually, “Fine” or “I’m good.” We are more apt to talk about being happy or sad than joyful.
Perhaps that is a good thing. We need words that are held for the more important emotions and expressions of life — words we cherish and do not take lightly. There should be words held precious for that moment when the very best of life’s truth and beauty needs to be proclaimed.
As I was reflecting on this, I began wondering what moments in life I would offer to express this feeling of joy, this “emotion of wellbeing.” I went to my wedding day, to the birth of each of my sons, and that was not it. When I think of the joy within me related to those events, I realize it was not in the event that joy arrived. It was in the realization, the knowledge or the promise that we would wed, or that we would be blessed with a child. It was in that moment that joy filled my heart. The event was then just a celebration of a joy already received.
Advent is a season of claiming and regaining the heart of the Christian message — a message that we can live with Hope, Love, Joy and Peace because of something we have come to know in our hearts that is real and true — even though it hasn’t fully occurred yet. Isaiah 61:8 reads, “I the Lord, love justice.” If I know that to be true, and if I live daily in that belief, I can act with compassion and live with promise in a world where I sometimes feel outnumbered by people who do not make this claim.
Leslie Weatherhead, the great English preacher, once said, “The opposite of joy is not sorrow. It is unbelief.” Yes, there is joy in knowing and believing there will be great blessings in life, even in the middle of the strife of life. This is the gift of faith.
Prayer: Lord, may I live in joy with the knowledge of your loving, life-giving promise. In Christ, Amen.
Rev. John Farley
South District Superintendent
Dean of Cabinet