Fruits of the Spirit: Joy 😊
Today is the second in a series of reflections on the fruits of the Spirit as described by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Do keep sending in your images of how you see the Holy Spirit by clicking here, as they go so well with this series! Below, Sarah Swallow’s description of the delight of God and His people at the sound of music in St. Mary’s Conwy could not be more apt.
Our reflection on Joy is brought to us by Clive Addison, along with a picture of Clive and Heather’s dog, Cari, when she was a puppy. Many who attend Celtic Prayer and Praise at Llangelynnin Old Church will have met her (now much more adult!) at their home afterwards, as she bounds up to everyone with excitement. Owning a dog can give many of us pleasure and happiness, but Clive wonders: is that the same thing as joy?
The Spirit of God was at work in Conwy on 11th May 2019. The Menai Wind Quintet, accompanied by Gary O’Shea on piano, played beautifully, much to the delight of God and everyone else who were present in St. Mary’s Church that evening!
“You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.” Isaiah 30: 29
‘Peidiwch bod yn drist – bod yn llawen yn yr Arglwydd sy’n rhoi nerth i chi!’
Nehemeia 8 :10
‘Do not grieve, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength!’
Nehemiah 8 :10
Cari as a puppy
Clive Addison writes:
Having been asked to do a reflection on one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the problem was – which one to choose? To be honest, I didn’t know! But somehow out of the list before me, I found myself thinking about Joy. But had I made the right choice? I wasn’t sure! So after having committed myself, I found it amusing and reassuring, when a few hours later I picked up a half-read magazine on my bookshelf that had been hanging around for nearly 6 months, to find it was opened at a place where there was a big advert, shouting out to me – “Choose Joy!” Certainly not a coincidence – more a God incident! In the most practical of ways we really do have a faith that works!
The advert was from Sat7, a Christian satellite television broadcasting organisation who cover all of the Middle East, supporting Christians living there under very difficult, often life-threatening circumstances, and sharing the love of Jesus with those who have yet to meet him. The full message was, “Do not choose despair, choose Joy.” So out of all the fruits of the Spirit, why did Sat7 decide it was the Joy of the Christian Faith that should be emphasised?
What is Joy anyway? Is it just intense happiness? Interestingly, the dictionary uses similar words to describe both: pleasure, contentment, extreme gladness. And indeed in some other cultures they can be used to mean the same thing. Evangelical Christian business men I know in Hong Kong sing to guests their “Happy Men’s Song.” The first 2 lines are “We are the happy men, praising Jesus all day long!” It rhymes in Cantonese, I think! I have a lasting memory of seeing 20 of them perform the song in Malaysia in front of 400 dinner guests. Dressed with their immaculate blazers and ties, along with dance movements, they were having a great time! We ended up all doing a conga around the restaurant, before the main speaker came on to tell their guests how Jesus had changed his life. My friends were giving witness to the fact that Christianity is fun and it works!
In our Western understanding there is a nuanced difference between joy and happiness which I think goes like this: Happiness is extreme gladness, pleasure brought about by some external circumstances; we can respond to all sorts of things by being happy if they give us pleasure. But joy on the other hand is much deeper. It is extreme gladness but as well as that pleasure I think I would add the word assurance. For a Christian, joy comes from our innermost being in the form of assurance. It seems to be there inside us whatever our external circumstances. It seems to continually bubble up from the inside! For the person who has asked Jesus into their lives, He comes! And along with Him comes the Godhead including the Holy Spirit. If we proclaim Jesus as our Lord, Saviour and Friend then we have the Spirit of God in us. It is the assurance of God’s love that gives us joy, deep within our souls.
There are many people in despair through the pandemic, and we pray for our broken world. Yet, it is in the knowledge of God’s love, as Sat7 points out, that whatever our circumstances we never need to choose despair, and believe that is the end of the story. We can always choose joy.
reach out to all for whom the future
seems uncertain or unwelcome,
and bring the assurance that even in the darkest moments,
the greatest challenges,
the most worrying times,
you are there working out your purpose;
you are able to bring light out of darkness,
hope out of despair,
joy out of sorrow,
and good out of evil.
ymestyn allan tuag at bawb sydd â’u dyfydol
yn ymddangos yn ansicr neu yn ddigroeso,
a dyro iddynt dy sicrwydd a fydd,
byd yn oed yn y munudau tywyllaf,
yn yr her fwyaf,
yr adegau mwyaf pryderus,
yn dweud dy fod yn gweithredu dy bwrpas,
ac yn abl i ddwyn golau i lewyrchu ym mhob tywyllwych,
a dwyn gobaith ym mhob tristwch,
a daioni ym mhob sefyllfa ddrygionus.
Nick Fawcett cyf. Aled Davies
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