May 2017

“In your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11

 

Dear Redeemer Family:
We are now in the Season of Easter, and should be filled with Easter joy, especially after the forty long days of Lent. But in the world there is much that isn’t joyful. The nightly news is filled with a lot of less than joyful events. Should we be concerned about them? Yes, of course. Are they to be our ultimate concerns. No. They are just signs that the world carries on with its business as usual. We are to be concerned, and as Christians to reach out to help those in need as best that we can be it famine or flood, war or pestilence. We are commanded to reach out in love to help those in need. More than that, we are to spread that Easter joy with us as we go.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his former students dated November 29, 1942, after listing some of their former classmates who had been killed recently during World War II, writes about his and their feelings in the midst of such tragedy, ””With everlasting joy upon their heads…” (Isaiah 35:10). We do not grudge it them; indeed, should we say that sometimes we envy them in the stillness? Since ancient times, acidia – sorrowfulness of the heart, “resignation” – has been one of the deadly sins. “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) summons us to the Scriptures. This is what our life has been given to us for; what it has been preserved for up till now. Joy belongs, not only to those who have been called home, but also to the living, and no one shall take it from us. We are one with them in this joy, but never in sorrow. How shall we be able to help those who have become joyless and fearful unless we ourselves are supported by courage and joy? I don’t mean by this something fabricated, compelled, but something given, free.

 

Joy dwells with God; it descends from God and seizes spirit, soul and body, and where this joy has grasped us it grows greater, carries us away, opens closed doors. There is a joy which knows nothing of sorrow, need, and anxiety of the heart; it has no duration, and it can only drug one for the moment. The joy of God has been through the poverty of the crib and the distress of the cross; therefore it is insuperable, irrefutable. It does not deny the distress where it is, but finds God in the midst of it, indeed precisely there; it does not contest the most grievous sin, but finds forgiveness in just this way; it looks death in the face, yet finds life in death itself. We are concerned with this joy which has overcome. It alone is worth believing; it alone helps and heals.”

 

We are to share that same joy, the Easter joy, wherever we go. The glory of the resurrected Christ and His work, that joy is what we share. This is what we are to be about. “We are concerned with this joy which has overcome. It alone is worth believing; it alone helps and heals.” Let us share that witness to all who are in need or injured. Let us be our Lord’s agents of aid and healing to those in suffering; joyless and fearful, in whatever forms we find them.

 

In Christ, Pastor Rose

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