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Reading on Joy & Sorrow

December 16th, 2021 | Community Updates

On Joy &  On Sorrow

Psalm 138

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;

    before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

    and will praise your name

    for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,

for you have so exalted your solemn decree

    that it surpasses your fame.

When I called, you answered me;

    you greatly emboldened me.

May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord,

    when they hear what you have decreed.

May they sing of the ways of the Lord,

    for the glory of the Lord is great.

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;

    though lofty, he sees them from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

    you preserve my life.

You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;

    with your right hand you save me.

The Lord will vindicate me;

    your love, Lord, endures forever—

    do not abandon the works of your hands.

Here As In Heaven by Elevation Worship

Reader: Some of us come with hearts dashed with disappointment

Together: Let us hear your hope whispering in our ear

Reader: Some of us are deep in the dark of the night

Together: Let us see the sun rising in the distance

Reader: Some of us are exhausted from conflict

Together: Let us find strength in each other

Together: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened; I will give you rest.”

Reader: Some of us come hardened by bitterness

Together: Let your tender touch soften our souls

Reader: Some of us are frightened by the future

Together: Let us find guidance and wisdom from your Spirit

Reader: Some of us are haunted by failures

Together: Let us find healing in your embrace

Together: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened; I will give you rest.”

Reader: Some of us feel defeated and without answers

Together: Let us find an unexpected way forward

Reader: Some of us are stubborn and refuse to surrender

Together: Let us trust your spirit and just let go

Reader: Some of us need to say sorry to another

Together: Let us seek repair and let apologies flow from our lips

Together: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, amen.

Here As In Heaven by Elevation Worship

Reader: Some of us come with hearts open to new opportunities

Together: Let us hear you guiding us forward

Reader: Some of us are experiencing new light and new life

Together: Let us see the sun and bask in it’s warmth

Reader: Some of us are living in a time of peace

Together: Let us reach out to others in distress

Together: “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full.”

Reader: Some of us are experiencing great delight in our circumstances

Together: Let your goodness remain in our lives

Reader: Some of us are hopeful for the future

Together: Let us remain in hope and trust in Your guidance

Reader: Some of us are finding joy in success

Together: Let us give thanksgiving and praise for Your blessings

Together: “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full.”

Reader: Some of us feel victorious and content

Together: Let us continue moving forward in embracing this reality

Reader: Some of us have found complete joy in surrendering

Together: Let us continue in trusting in Your Spirit

Reader: Some of us at peace with our relationships

Together: Let us use our position to empower and equip

Together: “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full.”

Here As In Heaven by Elevation Worship

“Thanksgiving at the Return of Joy”

For a long season, O Lord,

I considered as an impossibility

What I now know as unshakable truth:

That after loss, pain tragedy, tears,

Sorrow, doubt, defeat, and disarray,

I will hold a more costly and precious joy

Than any I have held before;

And this is not in denial of my loss,

But manifest in the very wreckage of it.

And so I know this unexpected joy

Is no glib and passing fancy.

It is rather the Diamond-hard treasure

Unearthed and recognized

Only wen lesser hopes have collapsed.

It is the knowledge of your unwavering

Faithfulness, O Christ, now experienced

And owned. It is the bright beacon

Of your promises blooming in the night

Like signal fires upon mountain peaks.

I came to the end of my own hope, O God,

And found that your hope held me still.

I saw through the ruin of my own happiness

That your better joy stood firm-

And unassailable fortress that even death could not throw down.

And you have lifted me from where

I lay wounded on war-torn fields, and have

Planted my feet solidly upon your ramparts.

O God, guard my heart against

Any tendency to transmute this joy

Into the guilt of a survivor, as if to delight

In your good gifts were somehow

A betrayal of my love for the one I lost.

No, my Lord, let me never believe

Such a lie. This sense of returning joy

Is no offense against their memory-

Indeed, it blooms from the very seed

Of the hope of a world made new,

And encompasses the expectation

Of their resurrection, and of my own,

And of our jubilant reunion.

And so I will celebrate your goodness in

the land of the living. I will delight in this life,

Even as it is lived in the shadow of death,

For a day will come when all of your children will

rise eternal, taking joy together

In these created spaces.

Yes, in this age I will mourn with all my heart.

And that is right. And yes, I will rejoice

With all my heart as well. For that is also right.

You, O Christ, have faithfully shepherded me,

Your child, through the passages of a world

Broken and fraught with separation and loss,

And you have guided me again to the bright

Remembrance of joy – even of a joy that

Wells up within my sadness.

You have lifted my eyes to the sight of

Sunlight shafts piercing the darkest of clouds,

Gracing in gold a distant hill to which

I will inevitably one day come.

You have whispered to me again and again,

That the end is not the end.

And I have begun to believe it-

Not jus tin my head, but in the blood and

Bones and heart of my own experience.

This surprising joy is like the aroma

of a wedding feast prepared and awaiting

My arrival in some verdant wildflower meadow.

It is the substance of all secret hopes.

It is the assurance that all lost things

Will be found, that grief will be upended, that all

Spaces hollowed by sorrow will become eternal

Repositories of glories untold, and that all things

Will one day be revealed as mysteries of

Mercy and grace, designed for your glory,

O god, and for the great good of your people,

Your bride, your beloved.

O my soul, water this joy with your tears,

Bathe all remaining tears in streams of joy,

for this joy is now small passing thing.

It is the very spring of eternity bursting

From the parched soil of your sorrow,

Flowing forward into eternity. Deep has

Called to deep, and deep has answered.

This joy will not be quenched!

Take joy! O my soul,

Take everlasting joy, and drink!

Let it be so.

Discussion Questions

Great Are You, Lord by All Sons & Daughters

Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, hard hearts, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may seek truth boldly and live from deep within your heart where God’s Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger: at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that we may reach out our hand in comfort and turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with foolishness to believe that through Jesus Christ we’ll have the strength and power necessary to create change in this world and in our neighborhood, so that together we will courageously try what others claim cannot be done.

May God bless you with remembrance that we are called to continue God’s redemptive work of love and healing in God’s place, in and through God’s name, in God’s Spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch.

Let it be so.

Rhythms + Practices, Spiritual Formation