Good news of great joyBottom Highlights, Where's the Faith? Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
During this season leading up to tonight we’ve talked of hope, peace, joy and love – and we’ve also pondered the words of Dr. Seuss … as the Grinch said, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
As we remember the story, the Grinch was bitter and selfish and mean to everyone who even thought about having joy in their lives. But as the people of Whooville held on tenaciously to the power of joy, even in the midst of loss and disappointment, they helped the Grinch discover that he had the capacity to experience something that was foreign to him – joy and that he, indeed, was worthy and even deserved joy in his life. Their joy changed his life and by sharing the joy, that joy was multiplied!
The Grinch had to let go of his past and his hurts and his belief that he wasn’t capable of experiencing joy. When we release the past to the past, and open ourselves up to new possibilities, we are making room for the experience of joy in our lives.
Religion for so many of us was many different things; but for many it was not joyful. Maybe boring, or scary. Maybe shaming or guilt-ridden. It filled us with fear or hatred or prejudice and a legalism that made us associate religion with a long list of dos and don’ts (mostly don’ts!). But joy isn’t what many people traditionally associate with religion and that’s too bad.
Joy is mentioned many times in scripture. Life might not always be fun and it definitely isn’t always easy, but it can be joyful. Listen to what the psalmist wrote about a deep and shared experience of joy:
“Let all who take refuge in God be glad; let them always sing for joy!” (Ps 5:11)
“God makes known to us the path of life and fills us with joy…” (Ps 16:11)
“… weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!” (Ps 30:5)
And “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy!” (Ps 126:5)
The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “… God will turn sorrow into gladness and give comfort and joy instead of misery.” (Jeremiah 31:13)
Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount that joy is available to the poor, the grieving, the lowly, the marginalized, and not only to those who are experiencing difficult times, but to those who work and give to improve the human condition – to those who work for justice and peace.
And the Apostle Paul preached a message of joy to the Romans (Romans 15:13), praying, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy” and then giving a list of spiritual fruit to the church in Galatia, known as the Fruit of the Spirit.
I like what Rev. Durrell Watkins said, “If joy is a spiritual fruit, one wonders why the orchards of religion seem to experience a perpetual famine.”
Let’s replace guilt and shame with hope and joy! That’s the Good News of God’s inclusive love we proclaim here at The Met! Becoming a VIP Church: Vibrant, Inclusive and Progressive; fulfilling our mission of “bringing people closer to God and one another.”
Whenever we come together to share joy, we are honoring the gift of life and we are releasing healing energy into the world. When we are our authentic selves, when we care for others, when we celebrate life, when we are generous and work together to help and heal lives we are part of God’s ongoing creation and as is recorded in the book of Genesis, God said, “It is good!”
Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, keep going!”
We are here to replace fear with cheer, hate with hope, self-doubt with self-esteem and condemnation with celebration. We are here to experience and share the power of joy!
And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people!”
Let’s joyfully celebrate the gift of joy to the world!
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