Good morning. My name is Jane Window. I’m Canon Pastor here at St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s my privilege and pleasure to bring you this Weekly Reflection. First, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of our land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and to pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging as we continue to pray for the work of reconciliation.
Almighty and eternal God, draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills, so that we may be wholly yours, dedicated to being your disciples as we follow all that Jesus teaches, serving you to your glory, and loving all your people, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Bible Reading: John 15:4-13
4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
This was part of our Gospel reading yesterday. In verse 11, Jesus said: I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
I wonder what brings you joy – the song of a butcher bird, the sight of an eclectus parrot, a daffodil flowering in your garden, the warmth of the sun on a cool morning, a walk along a river trail during lockdown?
I find joy in all these and many things, and also in the joy of others.
This week, I found joy attending (online, of course) a friend’s book launch – a first book, and such an achievement, I thought. For a couple of birthdays, I’ve been able to send gifts (again bought online and delivered), flowers for one who turns 77 and books for another turning 5. This brought joy to me, as to the recipients.
Joy causes us to rejoice. Indeed, the words “joy” and “rejoice” are related. In 1 Thess. 5:16Paul tells the Thessalonians to “Rejoice always”. Unless we take an intentional approach, it is so much easier to produce a list of negatives, rather than looking for joy. But, whatever our circumstances, we can always find occasions to thank God for things which bring us joy and lead us to rejoice.
God has made us ‘in his image’, to be in relationship with him and with one another. Joy is to be shared – God’s joy, our joy and others’ joy. When something wonderful happens in our lives, we want to share our joy. It’s not a surprise that Facebook is so popular!
When we accept Jesus as Lord in our lives, we become his disciples, children of God, adopted into his family. This brings us joy and it brings joy to God.
I found it interesting that I began thinking of where I find joy. As a result, I’ve come to realise that finding joy is often the result of my own selfish attitude.
Until I pondered on yesterday’s Gospel reading, it had never occurred to me to consider what brings Godjoy. I’ve often pondered what it means to be obedient to God’s commandments (all 10 of them), I am always trying to learn more about who God is, serving him and following where Jesus leads. I value talking to others about God’s kingdom, but I can’t remember ever consciously wondering what brings joy to God! Now it seems so logical that if I am in a relationship with God, I should consider this question as an aspect of my discipleship.
The answer to this question is addressed in our reading today which is part of Jesus’ ‘farewell discourse’, spoken to his disciples on the night before he was crucified. He identifies two ways which honour and bring glory and joy to God: bearing much fruit and becoming disciples of Jesus. That’s in verse 8. Bearing fruit is living a Christ-like life, which, Jesus has already explained, comes about by remaining, abiding, and living fully in relationship with him.
Further, in verse 11, Jesus points out that when we do this, we can completely share in his joy as we follow him, which in turn gives our heavenly Father joy through our discipleship. It sounds rather circular, I know, but that is the dynamic of community. In diagram form, our spiritual relationship would be drawn as a circle. The Father, along with Jesus, have joy and that joy comes to us to complete our joy in God.
Next time you see a beautiful sunrise like the one above which my daughter-in-law photographed, or you hear a piece of music which stirs you emotionally, remember that being a disciple of Jesus is not all hard work, but includes God’s call to joy, knowing you share God’s joy, making yours complete in him.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.