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3/18 - Rejoice

. Posted in 2013 Lenten Readings

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. [Romans 4:7] Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. [Psalm 32:2]  I said "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" and you forgave the guilt of my sin. [Psalm 32:5]  Rejoice in the Lord and be glad.  Sing, all you who are upright in heart! [Psalm 32:11]

Rejoice in the Lord always.   I will say it again.  Rejoice! [Philippians 4:4]

Time, and again, the Bible exhorts us to Rejoice in the Lord.  But what is Joy?  As Peter Gomes said, Joy (as opposed to happiness or pleasure) is that moment of completeness, where all is clear.  It is both the moment and the response to the moment.  Eureka!  Joy can be elusive, coming at those moments of encounter when we see more than we have reason to believe.  It is undeserved happiness bubbling to the surface in thanksgiving.

I think we should be on the lookout for "Kingdom Moments" where we can actually feel the presence of God in his kingdom.  I had one of those moments when I was on the West coast away from my family for a period of time, and feeling a little lonely.  One pre-dawn morning as I walked outside and looked to the east, the sun was just peeking over the mountain top, the sky was painted in orange and purple, the world was in silence, and I thought out loud "my family is right there!"  My words startled me.  God most certainly was in that moment.  Unlike happiness, we cannot pursue Joy itself, but we can keep our hearts open to recognizing it.  Joy, to me, is the result of unexpectedly finding God in the details; the rich smell of cut wood, the laughter of friends, an awe-inspiring sunrise.  (I learned later Linn had a similar thought at sunset the evening before.  God finds a way to speak to us; we only need to be listening!)

The forty days of Lent is a time of preparation for our greatest gift.  To me, Psalm 32 is the heart of what Lent is about.  We can't forget the last days - the trials, the crucifixion, the pain.  These are the sacrifices Jesus made for each of us.  But we can remember we are forgiven people.  We don't need more guilt or shame for what we have done (or not done).  We need to repent, to turn around and be God's people, to Love God, and our neighbors all.

Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad.  This is the destination in Lent: rebirth, renewal, and resurrection.

Praying for Grace, Peace, and Joy, Bob Watt