The vital importance of joy

“….let us sing….let us make a joyful noise…..”[1]

Psalm 95 is a call to rediscover joy at the centre of our Christian faith, to sing out with joy in our worship and express that joy in the whole of our lives.

The joy of a Christian is not rooted in material goods or success. The joy of a Christian is not dependent on the weather or how life is treating us at present. The joy of a Christian flows from knowing God our creator, from knowing Jesus our Saviour and from knowing the Holy Spirit as our comforter and guide.

It is a joy deeper than any sorrow this world contains.  There is nothing brash, harsh or unloving about joy: it is not indifferent to the pain of others, or the grief of those who mourn, or the trials which come in every life, or the injustices in the world.

Christian joy is gentle and secure.  It flows from the deep conviction and vision that in the gospel of Jesus Christ is a medicine for all the ills of this world.  We call one another back to joy because we share a faith which proclaims that sorrow and sin and pain will not have the last word, because of Christ.  Even death has been defeated.

Pope Francis wrote recently: “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter”[2].  His words, like Psalm 95, call us to come back to the centre: to setting worship and rejoicing in God at the heart of our faith.

The old Westminster Catechism, used for many years to help people understand the faith, begins with this question:  “What is the chief end of man” (where end means both purpose and destiny and man means humanity).  The answer is this: “The chief end of man is to know God and enjoy him for ever”.

[1] Psalm 95.1 NRSV

[2] Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 6

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