“…joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:6)
Psalm 30 tells us that joy comes in the morning. The French have a term, joie de vivre, which translates to the joy of life. When does joy come, or how is it experienced for you? How would you define joy? The Dictionary defines Joy as a very glad feeling, happiness, or delight. Is that all there is to it?
This afternoon, while we were eating lunch, we spotted a tan doe and her fawn ambling through our back yard, pausing to sniff plants and blades of grass, halting to inhale and savor each fragrance. It delighted us. Then, our daughter, who is in Rome with some friends, sent us a picture of The Pope standing with her and her friends outside The Vatican. At first, we were incredulous, we then realized they had photoshopped The Pope into the picture. We laughed and were so happy that they were having fun. Finally, I was speaking with a friend who called while I was writing this. I told her what I was doing, contemplating joy, and she, as a fan, responded that joy is having “da Bears” win Thursday night. Are these examples of what the Bible is referring to?
To help us learn, as Christians, we hold and look to The Bible as foundational to our faith and also the most joyous book in sacred literature. There are countless references to joy in both the Old Testament and New Testament. OT writers first saw joy in the natural world. To them, both the heavens and the earth were joyful. Joy moved to music and dancing, like the women who danced for David, and joy was found in worshipping. God became “the exceeding joy” (Ps 43:4). And we were called to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness, come into his presence with singing” (Ps 100:1).
As Episcopalians, we sing countless hymns which include the word joy. Think of the Christmas carol which begins, “Joy to the world, our Savior is come…” (Hymn 100), or the familiar hymn which begins, “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love; hearts unfold like flowers before thee, praising thee, their sun above” (Hymn 376). These hymns reflect joy which is God created and centered.
Theologian Kathleen Norris suggests that the landscape in which we live and move tells, mediates, much about life, about who we are called to be. May I suggest that we also are mediators, interpreting God’s love, presence and joy as we live our lifes. Kathleen Norris’ perspective was validated by a book I just finished reading. It’s called Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. It’s a story about a group of Amish people in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
One of the boys in the story told about something he learned in grade school. It’s called J-O-Y, an acronym. It’s supposed to make Plain children remember that J -Jesus is first, O- others come next, and Y- you are last. It seems to me that if one lives by this acronym, one not only mediates God’s love, but sees and feels it as well. I believe Psalm 30:6, that joy comes in the morning, as each day we are given the opportunity to see the world about us and rejoice in its wonder producing joy. I also believe that each day we are given the opportunity to be mediators of God’s joy in the way we live, putting Jesus first, thinking about others next, and following up with ourselves. If we could live that way, Joy would abound abundantly and each moment we and others would experience joie de vivre, our hearts would unfold like flowers before God, praising God our sun above.
To God be the glory!