Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 98; 146, Exodus 15:1-21, 1 Peter 1:13-25, Gospel Reading John 14:18-31
How do you express your joy in the Lord?
After the Red Sea closed up behind the nation of Israel, forever freeing from the slavery of Pharaoh and Egypt, Miriam (the older sister of Moses and Aaron) took up a tambourine and began to dance and sing the Lord’s praises. Other women soon joined her.
The Psalms speak of many ways to express our joy: with song and praise; with trumpets, horns and harps; with dancing and joyful noise. The Psalmist describes the earth herself praising the Lord through the roaring sea, clapping floods, and singing hills.
Can’t sing well? Sing joyfully anyway! Got two left feet? Dance joyfully anyway! Can’t play the harp or drum? Clap your hands, stomp your feet, hum a crooked tune … joyfully!
Spontaneous expressions of joy aren’t something we see a lot, at least not outside of church. And if we do see them, it’s often through a cynical lens. When a stranger at the gym greets us with: “Jesus wants to you have a blessed day!” (true story), do we mumble “Thanks…” or do we shout “Amen, sister! You too!”
Maybe you’re an introvert, and such overt expressions seem more stressful than joyous. Let your joy erupt through poetry, kind deeds, or deep whiffs of spring blossoms. Your joy is between you and God, so don’t let anyone tell you there’s a right or wrong way.
The important thing is to express it when you feel it. Let it settle into tapping fingers and swinging hips and smiling lips. Do this often, and when you don’t feel it – when reasons for praise seem far away – you’ll have the muscle and soul memories to draw on to help you get through tough times. The body, the spirit, and the mind can all influence each other. It’s no cure for clinical depression or anxiety, but choosing to act joyfully can often bring us closer to feeling actual joy.
We are joyful because Christ has redeemed us. We are joyful because God is still moving through the world. Every day there is a new song to sing.
Comfort: You aren’t just allowed to be joyful … it’s encouraged!
Challenge: Make time every day to express joy. See if it changes you.
Prayer: God of Joy, thank you for all you do and all you are. My joy is complete in you! Amen.
Discussion: How do you express joy?
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