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Happy Pentecost! Happy birthday! I say ‘happy birthday’ since Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit bringing the gifts of the Spirit.

What do you hope the Spirit will bring to you? I hope it might be joy. Joy is, of course, one of the gifts of the Spirit. We learn in Acts 15.22 that the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Paul tells the Romans that the Kingdom of heaven is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and prays that they may be filled with all joy and hope in believing.

I remember being very struck by a testimony that was given at a confirmation by a young woman whose heart was quite clearly bubbling over with joy. She recounted how her colleagues at work couldn’t quite work out what was wrong with her. Conversely, Paul asks the Galatians, what has happened to all your joy?  Doesn’t this imply that lack of joy suggests a waning in Christian conviction? Certainly, the Christians who have impressed me most are those who have clearly been filled with a deep down joy.

One of the things that struck me about the young woman giving the testimony was that she couldn’t stop laughing. Now, of course, the sort of joy to which the scriptures are referring has nothing to do with a forced grin or inappropriate laughter, but I think that laughter has more of a place in the God’s way with the world of than is sometimes recognised and it’s one of the signs of joy. A facility to laugh often implies godly perspective on things.  To laugh is to rise above things so that we can see them in their true perspective, gets things in proportion.

Sometimes we shall be weighed down by burdens and by evil - let’s not underestimate its power. But it must not sully our joy because, as Paul emphasises to the Romans, ‘neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ That knowledge should carry us through the darkest of times in life. Archbishop Desmond Tutu always struck me as someone full of joy and laughter. Surely this is a sign that he was able to keep a Godly perspective on things rather than be weighed down with the terrible situations which he has had to confront. 

It might be thought that joy is different in character from the other gifts of the Spirit. There’s something more active implied by love, peace, patience kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control whereas joy is a state of being. But if we can be filled with deep down joy as we concentrate all our energy on the things of God, it will be infectious and we will be effective witnesses to the gospel.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring you joy, now and at all times, that it may be the language you speak.   I pray that your hearts and minds may rise high with joy as did the hearts of the first disciples, as you remain close to the Lord in his Word and Sacrament and in prayer. I pray that you may be given grace to rise above all the problems with which you have to cope as you see them in a Godly perspective.

Page last updated: Wednesday 24th May 2023 5:31 PM
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