Readings – II Samuel 11: 26 – 12: 13a; Psalm 51: 1- 13; Ephesians 4: 1- 16; John 6: 24 – 35
As many of you know, I am a baseball fan, especially a Philadelphia Phillies fan. Not last night for sure, but a couple of nights ago the Phillies were down 5 -3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Segura doubled; Realmuto struck out; Harper walked, and McCutchen hit a home run into the right-field stands. On second base Segura leap for joy; Harper danced around the bases; McCutchen just glided around the bases. John Kruk, an on-air commentator, said that when you won a game like that you feel like you are 10 years old again. To be 10 years old and to leap from joy, to dance for joy, to glide for joy, reminds me of King David dancing into Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting, heading for the mountain top. Being 10 years old, you leap for joy when your heart is full.
From our readings today, Psalm 15, verse 13 – “Give me the joy of your saving help and sustain me with your bountiful spirit”. Do you know that joy of a 10-year-old? I think we all have that joy, that bountiful spirit, even in their uncertain COVID times. I think we know the joy of God as we are teammates with God, as we are teammates with God’s people, doing God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven.
In 1719 Isaac Watts wrote the words of one of the best-known hymns, #100 in our current hymnal, Joy to the World.
v. 3 No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infect the ground; he comes to make His blessings flow…
v. 4 He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love…
This hymn was written in 1719 when Spain and France were at war on the European continent and in Louisiana and Florida. It was also a time of Civil War in Great Britain. The Parliament and King George I, of the house of Hanover and Anglican were being challenged by the House of Stuart, Roman Catholic, and believer in the Divine Right of the Monarchy. In the midst of waring nations, Isaac Watts wrote “Joy to the World”.
This congregation knows the great political divide in our nation. This congregation knows COVID. Yet, we continue to be filled with joy, with the pleasure of working side by side with each other and with the Spirit of God. We continue to celebrate God among us, Sunday after Sunday. There are take-home communion kits. There is the Halo every two months. Meals of Wheels continues. Meals for Seals continues. Martha’s Table continues. Prayer continues. The Angelus continues. Phone calls, emails, cards, and notes continue. Caring for each other continues. Market Street flowers, memorial garden geraniums, and the pollinator garden are blooming. A delayed Lenten program took place. The parish bell continues to ring out joyfully. All this is made possible by the inner joy we possess, the bountiful spirit of God, living within us.
Another song comes to mind, one I sang as a young boy, perhaps you sang it, too.
I have the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart. I have the joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.
To paraphrase St. Paul’s letter to the congregation in Rome, nothing can separate us from the joy [the love] of God. Not powers, not height, not depth, not anything in all creation can separate us from the joy [the love] of God.
All Saints has been called by God to be a joy-filled congregation and to proclaim that joy here within our walls, and to proclaim that joy beyond these walls – to Selinsgrove, to Snyder County, and beyond.
So, we joyfully ring our parish bell; we joyfully ring our individual bells here and later at home. We proclaim the joy of Jesus that lives deep in our hearts as we go about our day-to-day living.
Perhaps we can no longer leap with joy like Segura or dance like Harper, or glide like McCutchen, but we can still know the joy of a 10-year-old. That joy enables us to join Jesus in ministry in our own time, side by side with him and with each other.
Joy to the world. We have the joy of God deep in our hearts. And we let it show.