Finding Strength in Joy October 2022

“The joy of the LORD is your strength” Nehemiah 8.10.

In August, after a midweek communion at St. Luke’s, the worshippers and several new faces were finishing off with a brew and some cake after the service.  I had to go on a pastoral visit.  I had a quick coffee. As I left through the vestry door I took the atmosphere with me – loud excited chatting and plenty of laughing….. I am certain that this joy will be the power of our three wonderful churches in the days to come.

The Message of a more Up-to-date Bible

In recent years, a distorted message has broken through – the truly happy ones are the prosperous ones. Inner contentment comes from things outside of us:  where we live, the style of house we choose, our furnishings and gadgets, our holidays, our cars, and our clothes. We convince ourselves that the fears and anxieties of the well-off evaporate in the warmth of a well-endowed home.   For them, the materially dependent and affluent, spontaneous joy is a myth; a religious fairy tale.

For twelve long years the lips of the Baptist preacher John Bunyan were silenced in Bedford Prison.  “I was at home in prison and I sat me down and wrote……….for joy did make me write.”

Infectious Joy and Practical Happiness – The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, led by William Booth, first appeared in the 1870s, in the crowded, poverty-ridden, and smoky world of the Industrial Revolution.

There was nothing unusual about what the Salvation Army believed….what was different was the passion with which they held these  beliefs, and the way it filled them with a desire to bring joy, fight the evils of the world and see Jesus turn people from crippling sin. Salvationists still speak today of looking to Jesus, the source of infectious joy; glorifying the Lord by living as rejoicing Christians.

While the world lived under the gloom of pessimism, they rejoiced in the love of an amazing God.  This was their springboard for bringing relief and happiness into the lives of the poor communities they served.

And there is peace like a river,
And glory divine,
If you’ll come to the water,
If you’ll taste of His wine,
There is love ever flowing,
And joy ever full,
And there’s life everlasting
For us all.”

Based on Isaiah 55

May our Heavenly Father, break us free from the myth that one day our ship will come in and happiness will reign.  May He end for us the old lie that the rich are freed from anguish and care, and cause the Holy Ghost to well up as a fountain of joy deep within us. Lord, free us from doubt and fear, that we might have an infectious joy, and freedom from self to serve others.

Lord Jesus, fill our churches with joy! Amen.  Amen. Amen.