Isaiah 6:1-4, 8-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
After the first few days beginning the exploration of joy, we read scriptures that revealed the anticipation of the coming of the Lord truly cut both ways. Anticipation can possess both worry and relief. Those with worry recognized the coming as due date for a debt they could not pay. Those who anticipated with a sense of relief knew the coming of the Lord would free them from the injustice of the leadership. With his arrival, the covenant they had with God from Abraham and Moses would again rule and the land would again be just. In Isaiah we get the promise of a new covenant that will be for eternity - because it relies on God, not human reliability.
For that reason we turn away from our focus of mourning for and looking to the past. On this Sunday, in particular, we look to the future with great excitement because of the promise of the new covenant. We do not carry the anxiety of judgment, we look forward to the chance to spend eternity in a world that is guided by justice. After a lifetime of botched justice as we try to understand and live a God character, experiencing pure justice gets me excited.
The lesson of turning away from a past that cannot be changed toward a future of promise is a lesson we should take away from the season and use all year long. Living as God would have us live and focusing on the future that comes with it gives us many reasons to celebrate. How different would our worship and daily lives be if we lived in perpetual joy instead of mournful reflection?
The most exciting part of the joy described in Isaiah is its composition. It is not a head joy. It is not a heart joy. It is a joy that overtakes the entire body. The image of a garden in the spring sending forth its shoots helps us see the totality of its nature. We should be vehicles of joy. Little else does to us what joy can. Fear paralyzes. Grief consumes. Love confuses. But joy - joy fills!
Joyful, joyful we adore thee! Let's mean it when we sing it.