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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Joy is the Hope

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.’” From John 15:9-17


This past Sunday was so celebratory! Bishop Read made his first official visit to St. Mark's and we baptized, confirmed, received, and reaffirmed members. We capped off the day with a wonderful lunch prepared by our kitchen, complete with fiesta themed decorations and a mariachi band. During the reception, the children of our parish unabashedly danced to the music and there was not a face that wasn't lit up with pure joy. What a gift for all of us to see.


When was the last time you were swept away with joy? I often think we imagine that going deeper in our spiritual journey is all about preparing to weather the hard times. That of course is a necessary and helpful element of our faith and community life, but these wonderful readings from Easter remind us that God actually hopes that we will find joy. I suspect the people who most inspire you are not the people grimacing their way through life. The people that inspire us are ones who find moments of joy and presence even amidst the changes and chances of life.


The old adage, that if you carry a hammer everything starts to look like a nail, is instructive for us. When we seek moments of joy and presence, we start to see more of them and when we look only to the suffering and difficulties in our world, there is no question we can be pulled into an undertow of grief and despair. Jesus shared the words above to his disciples as he knew his days with them were coming to a close. He knew the crucifixion was at hand; that the glory of God’s self-giving love would be revealed in ways those disciples could only imagine. 


So, Jesus calls them to friendship. To a mutuality of community and service and love that results in joy. This Sunday we will hear from two of our graduating high school seniors. They always hold up an important mirror to us about what community life means to our young people. As I ponder listening to their wisdom and imagine the dancing children at last week’s reception, they remind me that they are part of the reciprocity. They bring their gifts and wisdom to us so that we remember to dance and sing and be joyful. This is not to avoid the suffering in our lives and our world, but rather to embrace it all. Joy can enclose the hard parts of life and give us hope. 


So, claim joy! And share it with others!


Peace, Beth +


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