Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Complete Joy

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 -- Week of 2 Easter
Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles, transferred from May 1

To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer)

the readings for Tuesday of 2 Easter, p. 958
Psalms 5, 6 (morning)        10, 11 (evening)
Daniel 2:1-16
1 John 2:1-11
John 17:12-19

OR the readings for Sts. Philip and James, p. 997
Morning Prayer:  Psalm 119:137-160;  Job 23:1-12;  John 1:43-51
Evening Prayer:  Psalms 139  Proverbs 4:7-18;  2 John 12:20-26

(Note:  Any Major Feasts that happen during Holy Week and Easter Week are transferred in sequence once we get to the days after Easter Week.  Today we transfer Sts. Philip & James day from May 1.)

 I read the readings for Tuesday of 2 Easter.

Jesus prayed to the Father, "But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves." 

The end of this verse from today's gospel reading may also be translated, "among themselves."  "I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete among themselves."

John's gospel often sets up a dichotomy between the world and the spirit, or life in the world and life in Jesus.  We use similar language in the church when we speak of our living out of our false self and our true self, our living from our ego or from love.  Over and over Jesus says that he intends joy and abundant life for all.  Sometimes he speaks his intention; sometimes he acts on his intention.

The implication is that there are two ways of being in the world.  One way is self-centered, worried about things, controlling, anxious; the other way is oriented toward the all, relaxed, trusting, and joyful.  It is significant that Jesus says that he speaks these things "in the world."  The incarnation of Jesus says that in Jesus God comes into our broken and contingent world and lives with the same difficulties that we all live with.  Yet Jesus maintains his union with God, and so he can remain joyful, trusting and loving regardless of circumstances. 

Joy and happiness are our birthright.  Jesus intends to give us complete joy, abundant life.  It is a gift.  But it is something that must be received.

The apostle Paul liked to talk of this complete joy and abundant life as a sense of relationship with God, a relationship of peace with God.  He called it "justification."  He experienced justification as a burst of enlightenment while he was headed down a false road to persecute Jesus' disciples.  When it struck him blind, he quit.  He quit trying.  He quit trying to justify himself, and he relaxed into the gift of a relationship with God, given freely, without strings and without earning or deserving.  That sense of being completely accepted by God made Paul bulletproof.  He no longer feared.  He no longer feared death, or failure, or God.

That interior turn is what the scriptures call repentance.  Repent is a word that means "change directions, turn around."  Jesus invites us to turn away from one way of trying to achieve or earn or grasp happiness, and simply to relax, accept the gift of happiness as our birthright, a gift freely given from God. 

The other language that John's gospel uses speaks of oneness.  In John's gospel Jesus says over and over that he is one with God, and we are one with him, and we are one with God and with one another. 

Life in the world is a life of self over against the other.  Life in Christ is a life of union and communion.  In Christ each person is a coherent whole -- happy, relaxed, at peace -- and we are one with God and all humanity -- happy, relaxed, at peace.  As Jesus says, "They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world."  We belong to the All, the One.  This is the truth that we are sanctified into, he says. 

As Jesus puts it, we are to live in the world but not of the world.  We are given a new state of being.  We live in the Spirit of God that makes all things new, beginning with ourselves.  Jesus absorbs all of the evil, trauma, foolishness and violence that characterizes the world.  He does not fight back, but he relaxes, he trusts, until he is no more.  From that surrender comes new life, resurrection.  Life always comes out of death, all kinds of death, if we can only get out of the way.  It is the embrace of love that triumphs.  Divine love, expressed as compassion and trust, turns suffering into joy.

Jesus speaks these things in the world so that we may have divine joy complete in ourselves, among ourselves.



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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