John 15: 11 NRSV – I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.
I have often wondered if we should post this over every entrance to every church building – This is a place of joy, so change your frown or turn around. This also probably gives you a hint why I’m not a pastor of a church. But shouldn’t our lives and our churches reflect joy? Shouldn’t we reflect changed lives and shouldn’t that difference show in our faces and in our actions? We are chosen for joy.
My dad served a church that had the most magnificent music. The tradition in this church was not to clap after any performances or honestly anything that happened in church. I remember sitting in the congregation on a Christmas Eve. The violin, harp, and piano music literally brought me to tears. When they finished, nothing. No recognition for these incredibly talented musicians who shared their talents to glorify God. After this wonderful act of worship – we sat on our hands.
What is the deal? Our long faces and somber attitudes don’t serve the Lord. We are chosen for joy and pretty sure God would be OK if we clapped in a church. Maybe even demands we make a joyful noise.
Now I’m a product of the Midwest. I realize that for United Methodist Churches (and many other congregations) that an amen almost loud enough to be heard by the person sitting next to us, represents a someone standing on their chair and shouting “Alleluia” in other traditions. But Jesus proclaims, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” We need to walk lives that demonstrate we are chosen for joy.
I can’t wait for Sunday. I’m going to crack a smile and raise one, maybe two, fingers in my lap to show a heart filled with joy. Take that church!