Scripture Passage: Isaiah 66: 10-14
10Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her—11that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.12For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees.13As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.14You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
This is a hard journey to walk. It is a journey of despair and lament, of darkness and death. It is also a journey of joy. On this fourth Sunday of Lent, known as Laetare Sunday, we are encouraged to be joyful. It is a recognition that in the midst of all that is life, there are natural rhythms. We have just passed the mid-point of this Lenten journey. This is a day of refreshment, of basking in the comfort and joy and life that God offers us. Think of it as a glimpse of Easter Sunday, of that glorious day of Resurrection. This is a day of joy!
But, sadly, joy often eludes us. Why is that? Are we waiting for everything to be in place? Do we not think we deserve it? Do we not think we have time for it? Why is it so hard? Can we just not find it? Look around you. Joy is everywhere. Life is not a sequential movement from darkness to light, from sadness to joy, or from death to life. Faith in God is not about pursuing a degree in joy. Life is about rhythms. All of those experiences and feelings are part of it. They all exist in the midst of one another. And God is woven through all of them. Being joyful is not some sort of pinnacle point that we are trying to reach. It is not about seeking happiness. Happiness is fleeting. But joy…joy is deep and abiding. Joy is everlasting. Joy is present with all experiences of life. It is thanksgiving; it is gratitude; it is an embracing of the part of the journey through which we travel now. Joy is a realization that God is in all things. Joy is God in our being and in everything that is. Allowing ourselves to feel joy, to be joyful, is to respond to God. Joy is faith.
So on this day, rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her. Rejoice with her in joy. Show her what is to come. Show her that in the midst of this journey to the cross when death looms and darkness seems to overtake us, when it is hard to see anything other than grief and despair, that there is always joy. There is always a glimpse of the beauty over the horizon. So, rejoice and be glad!
Joy has no name. Its very being is lost in the great tide of selfless delight–creation’s response to the infinite loving of God! (Evelyn Underhill)
Grace and Peace,