Restore the Joy of My Salvation

What restores your soul?  

We've spent the summer talking about "Fun," that is, the child-like experience -- and even permission -- of joy, delight, and fun, and why these experiences are integral to our spiritual health.  Today we're looking at the need for, and possibility of, experiencing the joy of our salvation in a life with the living God.  

Movement 1) DELIGHT
How is your "delight" going these days?  
In the Bible, the psalms often express the delight of living with God.  But many people carry an image of God, and even Jesus, that he sits around waiting for us to make a mistake.  Then someone says "Sic 'em, Jesus!" making the experience of God terrifying and foreboding.  And while the Bible does say "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom," it does not mean fear as in "terror."  Rather, it is an experience of being in awe of our Creator who loves and provides for us.  It is an experience of awe-filled delight.

Movement 2) SEE
Psalm 65:9-13
9 You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it...
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing.

This summer has been fun seeing all the people in our community who made the time to SEE the beauty and goodness of God.  Activities like hikes and walks, gathering with friends at the ball game, and just sharing a good book with someone all help us to see that God is good and made manifest in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There are studies that show the need for children to be seen.  We all still carry that need.  Where does it come from?  Perhaps from our Creator.  God desires that we would see Him, and participate in the communal life of the Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This is the "perichoretic" nature of God, a dynamic co-seeing of one another.  The Church is meant to reflect this shared seeing of each other, and the community it creates.  

Movement 3)  FALL IN LOVE
Jesus in John 10:10 -- "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."
Life to the full is something we may not understand outside of the secular worldview we're all steeped in.  Pastor Aaron suggested that a paraphrase of what Jesus was saying is "I have come that you may fall in love with life, and have it to the full."  
It's not about playing fast and loose with the word "love."  When we think of an experience of true joy, we often express it with the word "love."  For example, "I just loved seeing my grandkids today."  "I really loved waking up early in the backcountry on our  hike."  "I love an amazing book."  
It can feel vulnerable to love, right?  That's why so many of us are hesitant to allow ourselves to feel it.  But the vulnerability of love, which scares us at first, quickly becomes worth it when we have experienced the joy God promises in Christ: "...and have it to the full."

John 16:22-24
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
We are all, in one degree or another, working through some form of grief.  Whether we know it or not.  And it's not just the pandemic, either.  It's also from the constant conflict in our culture, the lack of harmony with our neighbors, the suffering and injustice in our own neighborhoods and across the globe.
So Jesus offers these words so that we would remember the truth, when we languish within the world's brokenness.  One of the most powerful ways to remember this is to remember your baptism.  When we remember our baptism, we might think of our church, or bowls or pools, etc.  But what we are meant to remember is the name into which we are baptized -- the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And just as the Father said of the Son as the Holy Spirit descended upon him at his baptism, we must remember these words God speaks over us: "Look!  This is my child in whom I am well pleased."  

As the old saying goes: God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  When we find ourselves lost in the dark, suffering, scared, or weighed down by doubt, may God help us Delight, See, Fall in Love, and embrace healthy Grief and the Gratitude it creates. 

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