the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
CS Lewis famously said that “it is a Christian duty for everyone to be as happy as s/he can”. When we read this, the temptation is to interpret that it is a “Christian Duty to always be happy”. Over the years I have encountered many Christians who seem to be 100% committed to believing that this is true.
Ode to Joy:
“Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me… me, me!”
It is a good starting point when contemplating the things that bring us Joy to remember the things we have. I know that it is easy to sit here and say that whilst I am surrounded with…. things…. in my house. I am typing this on a laptop computer in front of an open fire whilst I wait for my wife to return home from work and share a meal with me. I have a comfortable life. This is something ‘exceptionally good or satisfying’, a cause of ‘great delight or happiness’.
But what if those things were not there? What if, like Job those things were no longer part of my life? Would I then be able to sing Ode to Joy if I was no longer able to focus on… ‘me’?
In this passage, Isaiah’s gives a glimpse into the coming kingdom of God. He acknowledges the reality of the world in which we live, a world of death and war, a world of nations fighting against nations. Isaiah issues a call to the people, “Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord”.
When Mary was pregnant with Jesus she sang The Magnificat in which she opens with the source of her Joy: “My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour”. She then continues to sing of the nature of God who raises the least in society, raising the humble and feeding the hungry.
What would it be like if this is where we found our Joy? Not in our self interest but instead in the service of others?
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”