“No one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No one will take my joy from me? What do you mean, Jesus? It’s pretty easy to take away my happiness. It doesn’t take much to spoil my morning. I oversleep, spill my coffee, trip over something and nearly break my neck, and before you can say a four-letter word, I’m grumpy.
Christian “joy” is not simply an attitude created by happy circumstances, but it is an attitude created by remembrance of God’s deeds in the past, faith in His never-changing love, and hope for salvation in the future. Thus, Paul talks about joy “in the faith” (Philippians 1:25) and joy “in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1).
Christians rejoice or celebrate because our Lord Jesus paid for our sins, rescued us from God’s coming judgment, stripped the devil and the world of their power, and even conquered death itself. Joy is the response of faith when it hears the Gospel. And since the Gospel is certain and eternal, our joy never ends!
This doesn’t mean we suppress our sorrow and grief—even Jesus, who had perfect faith, felt fear and grief (consider Him in the Garden of Gethsemane or weeping because Lazarus died). Like St. Paul, we are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10). Even when we feel terrible, even when we are scared, depressed, or grieved, we know that Jesus gave Himself for us and that He was raised from the dead. Thus, we have every reason to celebrate!
Every Sunday we gather with our fellow Christians to celebrate Easter with them. We even share a meal together, talking about how Jesus has saved us, while eating His very Body and drinking His very Blood. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, the heavenly Father who shows the light of the truth to those who are in error, so that they may return into the way of righteousness, cause all who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Church to avoid those things that are contrary to their profession and to follow all such things that are agreeable hereto; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter)