2014: The year of JOY

7 Jan

JOY is my new favorite word.  I preached about it on Christmas Eve [“I bring you great tidings of great JOY”] and I just wrote the following for the local newspaper.  Writing my dues for the pastor’s column is usually slightly the bane of my existence but today it came relatively easily.

It’s that time again.  The time when we think about our goals and our resolutions for the coming year.  Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?  Maybe to go to bed earlier.  To eat less sugar.  To send a piece of handwritten mail each week.  To [fill in the blank].  I used to set resolutions like that.  But then you know what?  I never ended up following them.  Instead of checking things off the resolution list and feeling better, I ended up feeling bad.  Like I had dropped the ball.  Like I had failed.  This year, I have chosen one over-arching goal for the new year.  For life.  I’m going to look for joy.  Notice that I didn’t say that I’m going to create joy.  Sure, I might, but mainly – I’m going to look for joy and then I’m going to call it out.  I’m going to name it.  I’m going to look for joy because within that joy we encounter God.  A French priest and philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, once said it this way: Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.  Joy exists all around us.  God’s presence is all around us.  In a smile, in excitement, in a conversation or reassuring touch.  In sharing a meal with people we love or people we’ve just met.  In a stranger’s greeting or a parting hug.  Where do you find joy in your everyday?  Can you name God’s presence in the ordinary joyful places of each hour?  That’s my resolution.  To look for joy and thereby be reminded of God’s presence all around, in the extraordinary and the ordinary.  Because joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.

I am just so in love with that quote.  I found it on an old bookmark that I picked up from someone’s discarded papers; I don’t even remember where.  It’s actually a bookmark to commemorate someone’s ordination.  On the back is the name of a pastor and date of ordination from the 1960s; on the front is the quote about joy.  I love it.  It hangs in my entryway.

Join me in naming joy this year?  So often we are convinced and told that we need to create joy or that joy is only found in happiness.  I think not completely either of those is true.  Joy is already here, in sad days and in happy days.  We just have to find it and call it like we see it.

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