Tag Archives: Joy

2 of 7: JOY

Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Quotes-32 of 7: JOY. Christmas brings all types of JOY. For me one of the most enJOYable aspects is the music. Raised in the traditional church and in a musical family, a mosaic of music was being created internally before I was born. The unusual thing (I was to find out later) was the depth of my exposure to all kinds of genre. Gospel, country, bluegrass,pop, classical…didn’t matter…we had it all, and I absorbed all those little colorful tiles and created an even larger internal masterpiece.

“Jesu, JOY of man‘s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.”

As I was starting to write tonight an old memory that I hadn’t thought of for years popped onto my visual screen. Thursdays were always Loudonville United Methodist Church choir practice nights. Even after a long day of delivering dry cleaning, mom would bundle me up and off we would go. In the spring or fall, we would sometimes walk the couple of blocks to church (if dad needed the car). Christmas practices were – however, the best. They were often longer and more intense. The church would be decked out in its greenery, a little chilly perhaps, but never for long. The altar light, the choir loft’s lights, sconces on the walls, the rolling vibrations of my God mother practicing the organ, the soft laughter and conversation of adults enjoying time together would roll over me as I lay on the padded bench reading a book, writing a letter to my pen pals, or just thinking. Wrapped in my mother’s seal skin coat (that she got from her mother, and that I still have stashed in my closet), I would nestled down – warm, content and filled with JOY beyond understanding..

“Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of JOY from deathless springs.”

As I look back at it tonight, I realize this memory was one of heaven’s touchstones in my life.. Rev Merlin Vining coming out of his office to sit beside or on a bench in front of me…sometimes talking, but mostly, just listening…soaking in God’s JOY…together. When I was alone, I just thought about God, the stain glass windows, the harmonies, the words or the background information that J.M. Day (high school band director at the time) would give about the music. Sooner or later, I would drift off to sleep, and mom would be waking me up. Still bundled in her coat, she would hustle me to the car and to bed once we got home. It is this deep JOY that continues to feed my soul and shines outward through my internal mosaic.

“Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of JOYS unknown.” translated by Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

(Google images)

1of 7: JOY

joy1 or 7: JOY. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Is 9:2

JOY, JOY.JOY!!!! Darkness is pierced by a sharp ray of light at the end of my before-Christmas-have-to-complete-chore-list tunnel. JOY! Grandson’s stocking is all caught up on decorations. Fingers on the left hand are a little bruised from pushing that ol’ needle, but I have never liked using a thimble, so it is my own fault. A couple days to rest and then to work on Granddaughter’s stocking. Hard to believe that 10 days from now, it will be Christmas Eve. Didn’t Hallmark just start showing Christmas movies? JOY!

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is 9:6

JOY! Dance on the rooftop; sing to the neighbors at the top of your voice; run down the street with two yapping dogs in the lead, jump over the fallen tree blocking your way — that’s the kind of JOY I’m talking about; Nothing is impossible. Nothing is beyond hope. Nothing is beyond love. It is all about JOY! There is an old song my father used to sometimes sing to my mother after they put me to bed.

“Sugar in the morning
Sugar in the evening
Sugar at suppertime
Be my little sugar
And love me all the time”

It was often my lullabye as my eyes grew heavy and sleep crept closer. Tonight as I was writing, it popped into my head again. In fact, as the words ran through my brain and out my fingers, I realized that it had been the music runnng through my head as I typed. But this time, the voice singing was God’s and the word “sugar” was replaced by the word “JOY”..

JOY in the morning
JOY in the evening
JOY at suppertime
Be my little JOY
and love Me all the time.

I love thinking that God still wants me to be His JOY because He certainly is my JOY.

A New Step

I am in a quandary.  I’ve stewed…walked a few circles of prayer in my head….stopped writing…worked on old chores that have been sitting around years…stared at anything as I’ve tried to scroll through this maze of thoughts. Have you ever felt like that?  As if the Trinity is trying to nudge you into a new thought – a new direction – a more complicated dance?  It’s  totally not fair when you’re dancing with a fantastic partner who suddenly throws in a new step.  You stumble.  You trip over your feet or His feet – until you finally – maybe – figure out what He is doing.  I’m still doing a few of those stumbling, catch-up steps; trying to look graceful and in time with the music – when in reality, I feel like my 7 year old self at my first dance recital:  scared – hyperventilating – fearful…

 “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this -man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took OFFENSE at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”  Matt 37:53-57 KJV

It is an old story about the way people think.  A story about rejection.  A fulfillment of prophecy.  The ultimate betrayal of a homegrown boy by people He knew and what they thought they knew about Him.  I’ve read it many times over the course of my 63 years.  It was this time through the story when My Lord threw in a new step.  I blinked.  I stumbled.  I didn’t recognize this step, but there it was in the shape of a simple word:  OFFENSE

 Offense:  of·fense  əˈfens/ N.  Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.

They took offense to Jesus.  Do I?  It is a question that I have avoided thinking about even though it has been in the back of my mind almost every day for the past few years.   We all have standards or principles that we live by in our life. These days, Christians want Christ to be LOVE, JOY, PEACE, GOOD NEWS.   It’s part of our contemporary songs and worship.   It’s easier to get people to listen and agree with our thoughts.  It’s the part of the 70’s that has stuck to our society like glue.  When we think of Jesus, we think we get the “new covenant”.  He didn’t reject people.  He didn’t stick to all the old rules…didn’t always wash before eating…didn’t quit healing just because it was the Sabbath…chased the money changers from the temple… told us not to judge others… You get the picture…Jesus, the communal, perpetual hippie.  I’m sure most of you have seen the FB poster or e-mail referring to Jesus as a socialist.

“And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.  And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?  When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?  And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be OFFENDED in me.”  Lk 7:18-23 KJV 

Same base word, but this time a verb.  The steps are tripping me up big time at this point.  Am I offended by who Christ is?  Is He more than the Jesus Freak version that has invaded our culture?  The music spins a little faster.  However, Our Father steps are a tempo, and soon, the music is silenced as the Holy Spirit begins to sing.  Christ IS more, He IS the WORD, and I am convicted.

It is hard to write this and know that I am offended by the One I love.  Even as I write this, tears gather at the corner of my eyes.  Turning the words of the stories over and over in my head, I began to see that the things Rabbi Yeshua rejected were the “religious trappings” of the day – not the WORD.  Compare it to how many of our churches are rejecting the age old traditions such as: dressing up for church, singing old hymns, reciting of creeds or psalms. Those are the things He rejected.  But Rabbi Yeshua never rejected the WORD; instead, He embodies ALL the WORD.  He is the WORD.  He is love, peace, joy, good news…He is also what we don’t want to talk about in our societal dance.  You know  – the scary stuff  – the stuff that makes us uneasy and afraid to talk about in the normal course of our day– sin, judgment, gnashing of teeth….Hell. 

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”  Rev 19:11-13 KJV 

I re-read that last verse over and over, and my typing falters. I pray a little more. Then I look at my hand resting in the hand of My Lord.  His eyes are questioning.  Do I want to learn this new step in the dance?  I have the choice.  I can continue the dance the same way I have been dancing for years – steps that are comfortable and acceptable with the music of our world, or I can incorporate this new step, and challenge myself within the status quo.  I am questioning within myself.  How much difference will it make at this point?  Why is it important now?  I am praying harder.   I’m not sure my feet will move in step with the One who leads, but I move my foot forward….testing the floor boards beneath my feet….and trusting the One who leads.

Let the dance begin, and hopefully, I won’t trip over this new step….too much…too often…horse-white-jesus

(picture from Google images)

Lenten Journey/Journey of the Cross #33


joy-comes-with-the-morningGrandma Mickey cake is sitting in the kitchen waiting for the the final frosting to be made tomorrow morning. Ribs are coated and ready to go into the oven within the hour for a long slow cooking marathon. If I was really dedicated, I would have made Grandma Mac noodles…but I’m not that motivated today.  I caught a whisper of the Grands’ colds, so I spent most of the morning sleeping, and the rest of the day not eating until I ate some yogurt and fruit a few minutes ago. The blessing is that Easter is almost here.

I always wonder what the disciples and Mother Mary did on Saturday. It was the Sabbath, so they would not have done much. A quiet day for many thoughts – many fears – many doubts. Did they have faith in the prophecy then, or did they just curl into themselves in sadness and despair? We’ve all been there. We’ve all curled up in a ball at one time or another. They saw the sky grow dark. The earth shake. The curtains ripped from top to bottom. Did they seek affirmation from Our Father? Among themselves? Did they walk back to the tomb? Whatever they did – I’m sure the day passed at at a crawl for all of them.

Tomorrow, the eyes of the world will open to a new day. The Son, indeed, did rise from “the heart of the earth”. The cup has been emptied and a new covenant is established for the Jews and gentiles alike. Joy does come in the morning.

“For His anger endures but for a moment; in His favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Ps 30:5