This is a lectionary post, kind of. Yesterday, one of the lectionary Psalms - I don't remember which one, and it doesn't actually matter for the point I am making - began with the phrase: 'Rejoice in the Lord'.
And as I was thinking about the lectionary post I never got to all day, that phrase kept bouncing around in my head. And it hit me, have you ever rejoiced in the Lord? Hopefully you can think of at least one time or another - a mountaintop experience, if you will - where you have done something that might constitute 'rejoicing in the Lord'. But the Psalm wasn't talking about a mountaintop experience, it was talking about a way of being in the world and a regular or normal activity. Lets look at that a little more.
First, what does it mean? Rejoicing is literally to 'take joy or to delight', but the root of the word (I know, I know you are nodding off already, but stay with me) is re - or to or again, and joice or joy. To have joy or to have joy again. And I think this is really important in the context of rejoicing in the Lord. When we rejoice in the Lord we are simply remembering, holding onto or sharing in the joy that we have in and through Jesus Christ and that Holy Spirit.
We have joy - and the ability to rejoice - because of the presence of God in our lives. Joy is a lot like happiness, but where happiness is entirely based on circumstances joy can only come through relationship. I believe real joy only comes through a relationship with God or relationships where God is a part. God is at the center of all of our joy, God gives us joy and God wants us to rejoice in Him - or to share in that joy and share it with others.
That all sounds great, but lets get to the Mad Lib section of the post. Fill in the blank with a verb, ______ in the Lord.
What are you putting in there? Trust, maybe. Hope, maybe. Rest (barely a verb, but okay), maybe. But where does rejoicing come in to the equation? What if we took out the restriction that it had to be a verb, does that make it any easier?
I don't know what word you think of first when you think about your relationship with God. To be honest, I am not even sure off the top of my head, what word I would use. But I think you are probably like me and so I am going to take some guesses.
When I think of my relationship with God, I sometimes think of responsibility, what I need to do. I think about rules I am to follow or the things that I am supposed to live up to.
This is not what God desires for us, and we are missing the point if that is how we view our relationship with God. God desires a relationship with us and sent his son to live among us so that we might 'have life and have it to the full'. That is something worth celebrating. That is something worth rejoicing in and in fact that is the very source of all of our joy!
So, sometime between now and Christmas - a time when we are supposed to be preparing for the coming of our joy as God draws near to us - make a conscious effort to rejoice in the Lord and see how it effects your life and how it (maybe) changes your perspective.
Let us rejoice!
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