We are living in an increasingly joyless world. We are surrounded by pleasures of the flesh but our souls are in starvation for love, joy and peace. I was touched by the message from the film, Love's Abiding Joy, which I saw with Mary a few days ago. The subplot was about a rich mayor of a town who convinced a young, well liked and honest man to be the sheriff of the town. His main objective was to use the young man to do the dirty job of evicting those who were not able to repay his loans. He was obsessed with getting as much wealth as he can irrespective of how many livelihoods he destroyed. The film demonstrated the truth that human greed is the most dangerous infection that will destroy the fabric of our human societies.
The main plot was the struggle of the young man and his wife with their grief over the death of their newborn baby. The wife's father had just arrived to see his newborn grand-daughter only to find that she had died in her sleep the next morning. The couple struggled with their faith in God as they sought to find answers for their tragic loss. It was a moving story of how love triumphs in the end over sorrow and greed.
On Sunday, Mrs Persis Lim, in her message at Queenstown Lutheran Church, reminded us of the need to guard our joy. Indeed so many things in life can rob us of our joy if we have the wrong perspective of joy. Joy is not a feeling but, as Mrs Lim pointed out, “the person, purpose, power and plan of God in our lives.’ Indeed as we begin the season of Advent, we are to be the witnesses of the truth that Jesus Christ is the source of our joy. Hence we sing, Joy To The World, The Lord Is Come!”
Joy is not something that happens to us but something that we receive. Mrs Lim touched on the need for “receptive spirituality’ in order to learn how to receive the goodness, mercy and grace of God. John Main made the following observation:
“To live our lives well we don’t need to be depressed by the fact that the world is passing away, that civilizations do crumble. Nor do we need to be disturbed by the fact that the world is often a largely chaotic world.”
He drew attention to the fact that the challenge for each of us is to find true peace, adequate order and harmony in our chaotic world that is passing away. The solution is not to try to “escape the real world of untidy ends and chaotic beginnings” or to “construct an alternative, illusory reality of our own.” Our task is simply to hold Jesus in reverence in our hearts and to build our lives on the rock who is Christ.
The message of our Lord to me this Advent season is to abide in Christ each day so that the words of the psalmist may be real in my life:
“And in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)