while we are all the way over here in australia we wanted to discover and practice disciplines that would keep us connected to our family in lexington. one of these disciplines will be to read the lectionary selections each week alongside our communality family. (I just checked the clock and saw that as I type this many of you will all be making your way to high street for the Sunday gathering).
this week i was particularly struck by the Nehemiah reading (8:1-10). there are pre-pagitt body prayers and a moving account of people undone with conviction as the law is read out....yet in the midst of this sorrow Nehemiah says, "this is a special day to the Lord, stop crying! go and have a party being careful not to leave anyone out, and don't cry, this day is special and THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH."
i fail to remember that joy is a sign of a true Yahweh follower. joy is a mark of someone’s deeper understanding of God's love for all the world. too often i have confused joy with naiveté or shallow triumphalism. A smile can be a slippery slope into Christian fakery, me thinks, and I worry that my own joy might be a sign of denial about the horrible injustice that creeps all around our world like a very well established ivy. But this is a permission giving story. I feel released to “go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks…” BECAUSE it is a reflection of joy rooted in God’s love and justice. Joy, it turns out, is not a sign of a blind-spot or weakness, it is a manifestation of God’s strength and a sign of “God with us.” a sign that God's ways (law) is the was we travel together to make things right.
I’m going to try on some joy this week and see if I can be transformed into a more worthy follower of jesus.