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A Joyful People

The fruit of the Spirit are those gifts of God, given when we are walking in the Spirit, that is living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in faith of the righteousness that is ours in Jesus. The fruit are; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Each of these bears much reflection and prayer, but here I want to focus on joy. Joy is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as:

1

: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires 

: the expression or exhibition of such emotion 

2

: a state of happiness or felicity 

3

: a source or cause of delight


Joy is a part of life that everyone I know cherishes and I would say hopes to have in abundance. Joy is one of those things that at some level necessitates relationship. To experience joy, especially ongoing joy, one must be in relationship, relationship with God, with other people, and with oneself. This is reflected particularly in Jesus’ words to his disciples in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel.


I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy might be complete. - John 15:11


Here we see that Jesus wishes his joy to be in his disciples (and us!) and that with his joy their (and our) joy is complete. Here Jesus is showing that joy is shared and it is only in the sharing of joy that it is complete or whole. 


Perhaps you’ve experienced this when someone near you is full of joy and their joy overflows into you, mixing with however much joy you have making your joy more rich and full. It could be the joy of a child playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer day. Maybe it’s the joy of a dog running around in the first snow of winter. It could be any number of relations and expressions that allow your joy and the joy of another to build and intertwine themselves. 


In the case of Jesus’ words in the Gospel he is discussing not only this phenomenon, but the very real nature of divine joy and the power it has to not just build on our own joy, but to complete it. And the source of joy for Jesus is the love shared, between God the Father and himself, between him and us, and between one person, one disciple and another. The joy of God is in the sharing of love, the giving and receiving that overflows from the Holy Trinity into the life of humanity. 


Thus the fruit of the Spirit are not separate fruit, an apple from this tree and a banana from that, but a bunch of grapes, all connected and coming from the same stem and vine. Our joy and Christ’s are ultimately grounded in our love, given and received, divine and human. 


The whole of the Christian life is one of mutuality and interdependence. Just as God’s love and ours overflow and intertwine with one another, so too do our joy and Christ’s find their fullness in their meeting. 


My hope for each of you is that you may experience not only your own joy, but the joy of others, especially Christ! And that in that abundance of sharing we might be a joyful people.


Blessings,

Pastor Brian




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