I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
John 15:11-12, 16
The good news is that God chose us, that God loves us, and God plans to use us to make this world God loves a better place.
That can be hard to remember, especially after the events in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Chicago—and more than likely any number of cities, towns, and neighborhoods in our own community. Every day we hear or read about school shootings, cancer, suicide, poverty, discrimination, apathy, violence, spite, abuse, and injustice. Some
days it’s just too much for me to deal with. I have a feeling the disciples felt the same way.
After all, here they are in the middle of Jesus’ Farewell Speech, the night before he is crucified. In his parting words to his disciples, he offers statements of truth.
The truth is they did not choose him, he chose them, and in that gift of love comes great joy.
When someone asked Luther what he would do if the world were going to end tomorrow, he said that he would plant a tree today.
The future is God’s, a gift given, like joy, to God’s beloved children. May we live our lives each day in the assurance that God has chosen us, and he invites us to abide in his love.
Perhaps we need to understand joy as our response to God’s grace. When we find ourselves experiencing abundant grace, joy is that feeling that is too wonderful for words that comes from God’s grace being poured out upon us.
Joy is an affirmation of God’s grace
It’s the guarantee of God’s grace when all that is good seems so far away. It’s the security of God’s love when it appears that love is nowhere to be felt, especially from those you thought would love you. It’s the promise Jesus gives us that even in the darkest places of despair, God is abiding with us and we are abiding in God.
- Have you ever experienced joy in the midst of a place of sadness and grief?
- How can we see the joy of God’s love abiding in us in the midst of devastation?
- How can you share God’s abundant love that has come to you with others?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.