Joy And Rejoicing

Christmas_shoppers_in_Leeds_in_December_2009Complaints. Angst. Cynicism. Malaise. Western society seems bent toward dissatisfaction. I blame this in part on our consumerism. We are constantly being told we need something other than what we have which instills a sense of disgruntlement. At the same time, however, we’re aware that wherever we turn, someone is trying to sell us something or scam us, spam us, or hack us, so we have our guards up.

Ironic. Perhaps no people on earth have more material goods than those of us in western societies. And yet, as one pastor said recently, we are a covetous people.

Instead of enjoying what we have, we plot and plan how to get more, even as we worry and work in order to keep what we’ve got. We spend hundreds of dollars purchasing warranties and insurance–health, auto, home, renter, life, dental. There are specific kinds of insurance, too–flood, fire, earthquake, theft, comprehension, accident, collision.

Protect, protect, protect. We have passwords to keep people out of our computers and mobile devices and social media sites. We have security alarms in our homes and cars and places of business. We have cameras and automatic light systems and safes and security doors and gated communities and security guards.

I’m not saying any of those things is wrong, but quite frankly, I don’t know how anyone keeps up. And I understand why so many people seem unhappy.

In the midst of all the frenzy connected with getting and keeping, magnified during the weeks known as “the shopping season,” the US has tucked into the last week of November a day we call Thanksgiving.

After cooking and cleaning and gathering together in our family groups, we eat our feasts, then go through the appropriate motions of being thankful to whomever for whatever before we rush off to the next hurried and hectic day of shopping.

A friend recently wrote a blog post that indited Christians for not being joyful, not laughing, not making merry. I don’t think it’s a problem with Christians as much as it is with people living in western societies. Oh, sure, there’s laughter in places where the people have had too much to drink or are making sport of others.

But joy? Where do you go to see people with joy oozing from their expressions?

Well, certainly it ought to be the Church. Joy is a product of contentment, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t require happy circumstances, and it doesn’t need to be greased with a pint of the bubbly.

Rejoicing is the same. James says the poor man is to rejoice in his humble circumstances. Peter says the believer is to rejoice to the degree that we share the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13).

It’s already abundantly clear that lots of stuff doesn’t lead to joy and rejoicing. Sure, sitting down with a group of friends or finding the perfect present at a bargain price or cheering for a team that wins all might make us happy for a time, but joy lasts and rejoicing doesn’t need an occasion.

At least not a new occasion. We already have received the good news of great joy which is for all people. And that’s reason for rejoicing for all time.

Published in: on November 8, 2013 at 7:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. Have you noticed how little talk there is about Thanksgiving this year? There is nothing in the stores about it, and you don’t even hear people talk about it. I think it is just one more step to cutting God out of our lives. After all, if He is not there, then we don’t have to give Thanks in everything, do we. After all, isn’t it all about us? (Just in case you didn’t get the sarcasm, No, it is not, it is all about Jesus Christ and being thankful.)


    • Rae, the only thing I’ve seen on the news was some attempt of K-Mart, I think, to open on Thanksgiving Day, resulting in picketing by the workers. I didn’t catch the whole news story so I’m not sure about the details or how it was resolved. I know at the time I felt disgusted. First stores atarted opening at midnight, then earlier, and now it’s going to become Green Thursday or something instead of Thanksgiving.

      We’ve stopped thinking our country is something to celebrate or that God had a hand in providing for and protecting those who emigrated here. We’ve stopped thinking it was phenomenal that indigenous people reached out and helped those early colonists survive. Rather than learning from history, we re-interpret it from our own disbelief and doubt and skepticism.

      We made it about family and football–two things I happen to love dearly 😉 –but we’re threatening to undue even that bit of tradition. So I think it’s up to us as individuals to look for ways to express thanksgiving and to communicate joy!



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