I had a great time at worship Sunday. One of the reasons is that the pastors who planned the services where I got to attend repeatedly used the word “joy”. It reminded me of a lesson I learned long ago.
When I was a child I heard a deeply devout laywoman often repeat the phrase from Nehemiah, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” (8:10) It didn’t make a lot of sense. But I was blessed to be a part of a youth choir that learned the words to “A Mighty Fortress is our God”, especially the verse –
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is he: Lord Sabbath his name,
from age to age the same, and he must win the battle
Because we were each required to look up what one of the verses of the hymn meant (there are many more verses than in our hymnal) I learned that Martin Luther, the writer, was talking about our strength coming not from ourselves but from God at work for us in Christ.
Julian of Norwich said that our hope lies in knowing where our hope lies.
For me to have our hope lie not in ourselves but in God is the source of a strength—or hope—that will never fail.
The world cries out for hope. Hope for peace, hope for basic civility, hope for justice. The next time you don’t know what to do, do what you feel God is asking you to do. You’ll have the joy (or strength) to do it. It will come from God.
Grace and peace,
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Hello from Harvey – The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength. Huh
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