Rector’s Blog: “Joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”

“I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”
You may have noticed that I like to laugh in church. A spiritual director once told me that if a church community can come together and cry together, why shouldn’t they be able to come together and laugh together? Joy is a sign of God’s presence. Even the Bible mentions that God takes delight in God’s own creation. Can you imagine God “delighting” in you? Can you imagine God laughing?
Don’t get me wrong. Our church services are times for deep reflection. Together, we go through some tough stuff. In church, we heal, we confess, we forgive and are forgiven. Our church community is a place to safely wrestle with the deep questions of life. There is also something to be said for a community that can come together and be joyful. “Joy attracts others to Christ,” writes Martin. Don’t we want to be around joyful people, and isn’t Christ the center of our greatest joys – the center of the things that make us most fulfilled and complete?
Some people have been taught to feel guilty over feeling joyful, but remember that God wants us to be joyful; God wants ALL people to be joyful. “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,” the old hymn says. Joy gives way to adoration. It can lead to a sense of appreciation and humility – a feeling that the gifts and blessings that we have are gifts from God.
Spiritual writer James Martin (SSJE) says that humor brings many things to the spiritual table. Most importantly, humor deepens one’s relationship with God. “If prayer can be seen as a personal relationship with God,” writes Martin, “then, like any relationship, it requires time, honesty, patience, the ability to listen and moments of silence. And like any relationship, it is leavened by humor.”
To that end, I’ll conclude with a small story that Martin tells about spiritual rock star, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) …
While travelling to one of her convents, Teresa of Avila was knocked off her donkey and fell into the mud.
Teresa: Lord, you couldn’t have picked a worse time for this to happen. Why would you let this happen?
God: That is how I treat my friends.
Teresa: And that is why you have so few of them!
Thanks for the joyful, playful, and BEAUTIFUL reception we had on Sunday. It was a blast, and I think God especially enjoyed the karaoke.
See you in church,
The Rev. Charlie Dupree
Rector, St. Paul’s Church