For the Lord takes delight in his people. PS 149
And what an absolute delight, it was to celebrate Home Coming Sunday with you. Thanks to Bill Crawford and Dr. Caruso for their work in co-chairing this year’s Home Coming Sunday.
I am so grateful that joy is not just a fringe benefit of serving at St. Peter’s. Joy is the essence of our worship and fellowship. Trust C.S. Lewis to find precisely the right words: Joy is the serious business of heaven. It is at the heart of God’s plan for us.
We are 21st Century Christians, living in suburban Long Island working out our salvation as guided by the grace of God. We are not all called to be scriptural savants or theological whiz-kids. But we are all specifically called to: Rejoice in the Lord always.
Across the ages, Julian of Norwich nails the point: The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly in the knowledge of His love. She recognized that joy is not a mystical ideal, but the base-line perspective of Christianity. Through the saving grace of Jesus our lives are profoundly, joyously changed. In Christ, despite our failings, we are not miserable sinners. We are struggling saints in training – falling and rising again in Him. While we still have so much to master, each resurrection in our spiritual journey brings a clearer understanding that joy is so much more than pleasure. Happiness and holiness are seamlessly interwoven gifts from God that grow in proportion to our openness to receive them.
That openness was palpable this Home Coming Sunday. God showered down happiness and holiness. We came together in worship. We stayed in fellowship. And we took the joy of the moment back home with us to add to the store of blessings God gives us to live positive, productive lives in service to our families, our neighbors and to Him. In our simple lives that is God’s plan for us. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to rejoice in His love…as Julian did when she wrote: We are His bliss, because He endlessly delights in us; and so with His grace shall we delight in Him.
I invite you to explore with me the scriptural imperative to rejoice in the Lord as a focal point for our worship, fellowship and outreach in the year ahead. And thank you profoundly for sharing your joy with my family this Home Coming Sunday and every welcoming day we serve at St. Peter’s.
Sincerely yours in the joy of Christ’s love,