Written by Pastor Russell Lackey
I wonder if we as Christians often misrepresent our Lord. Instead of being people who have come from God’s joyous wedding banquet, we look like people who have spent the night in a jail cell. Nietzsche made a striking observation about Christians: “You will have to look more redeemed if I am to believe in your Redeemer.” There is even an old hymn that says, “If people only knew, the joy of Jesus’ way, then surely more than few, would Christian be today.”
Having joy is something we at Luther Memorial should do quite naturally. We are, after all, the “Happy Danes.” We have been taught to seek happiness in God’s creation: nature, friendship, community, a good meal, and hygge. All these things are gifts given to bring about joy.
For the Christian, joy does not only remain in creation but also in Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, it says that when the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, “they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). This is not the first time joy accompanied Jesus.
At his birth, the angels sang with joy. And when the Good Shepherd finds a lost sheep, all of heaven rejoices. Of course, there would be deep joy with Jesus’ resurrection. Think of the joy you will experience when you see a loved one in eternity. Oh, Happy Day!
And yet, we are living in a moment when there is deep sorrow over the war in Ukraine as well as the lingering effects of the pandemic. If many of us look like we have spent the night in jail it is because we have. The idea of joy is offensive in moments that call for lament.
What are we to do? First: be kind to everyone, including yourself. We all need it. Second: get out into creation. Take walks, listen to the birds’ chirp, watch the crocuses bloom, take time to smell the roses. Nature has a way of giving perspective. Third: go to church and listen again to the old story of Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe, just maybe, you might be so moved that others would say: “Have you come from a party? Can we join you?”