Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Joyous Sukkot

When we arrived in Japan to pastor our little church my husband asked his Japanese mentoring pastor if he had some advice to give about preaching to his new Japanese congregation.  Baba-sensei had only one sentence of instruction to give him. "Preach the Word with joy!"

A good word of advice that applies not only in Japan.

The Jewish calendar has taken  us into the time of Sukkot, The Feast of Booths.  After a time of repentence our Jewish friends have entered a time of incredible joy and rejoicing for the goodness of God who forgives and restores.  

As Christians we too should be rejoicing.  Joy is our witness of the goodness of God to the rest of the world.  Over the last couple of centuries we have given joy short shrift and replaced it with a form of godliness that doesn't get past the repenting and atoning, not only for our own sake but for the sake of  standing in judgement of what we feel others should also repent of and atone for.  Too often, pure joy has been treated as a suspicious attitude to have by us sinner folk, or it has simply gotten lost in our over burdened spirits as we focus selfishly on our own sin too much of the time.  We negate the forgiveness of God so easily by being wrapped up in the dark side of our lives.

Our own scriptures admonish us in a number of places to retain our joy.  A key passage contains the following verse, Philippians 4:4:

Rejoice in the Lord always...and AGAIN I say, rejoice!!

Start reading at Philippians chapter 3 and keep going to Phil. 4:9 get the whole context.

Then do some back up reading:
Ps. 33:1
Habakkuk 3:18
2 Corinthians 6:10
1Thessalonians 5:16

So many of us Christians spend our lives letting the world see our constant analytical reflection of our own walk with Christ. We are quick to discuss the failures and the concerns but rarely the joy.  Joy is the key in sharing Jesus' goodness with each other and with the rest of the population. Spending our time blabbing about whether or not something is "God's will" or not, going on and on about our own sinfulness and refusing to allow ourselves to rest in the joy of the Lord, leads to our own downfall in sharing about God's amazing forgiveness and love.  If other people don't see the joy our walk with Christ is supposed to bring us, why would they be interested in knowing more about him?

Do I hear a rousing chorus of "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy Joy Down in my Heart!"?  And don't forget to do the actions, okay?  heehee

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