Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rejoice Always


Last night driving home in the dark I saw the full moon rising and reflecting in the Lake. This morning I got this picture of the full moon setting and reflecting in the Lake, the whole scene colored by the expectant dawn.
Gaudete Sunday indeed! The order to rejoice is not needed when nature makes me feel a deep down joy. In Isaiah 61 the prophet sings, "With all my heart I rejoice in the Lord; God is the joy of my soul." In Luke 1 when the angel Gabriel announces to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth are going to have a child (who will be John the Baptist), the angel says "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth."
But in First Thessalonians St. Paul's order is "Rejoice always!" Always? Yes, always and all ways! No just when we are happy or hear good news. Joy is deeper than happiness, and sorrow. Paul doesn't expect me to pretend that I don't have problems nor to close my eyes to the weighty problems of church and world. Joy springs from an abiding confidence in God, so it can persist in the midst of the worst of times.
I suspect that's what Teilhard de Chardin meant when he said, "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God." Wherever I see joy or whenever I feel joy, I know that God is present. Perhaps joy is the best way that I can call attention to the invisible Jesus within me and around me.
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