Sunday, 17 January 2010

Joy should not be discouraged

This morning I listened to (and attempted to interpret into English) a sermon on the miracle of Christ turning water into wine at Cana. The preacher concentrated on the symbolism of joy that the wine in the text represents - I have to admit that although he spoke in glorious rhetorical and rather abstract French I was not entirely convinced by the content of much of what he was saying. However the message about joy being an encouragement in suffering did give me pause for thought.

Christians are often seen as killjoys, judgemental types going around telling people off. Yet the gospels offer us a picture of Jesus who both spoke words of judgement and also spent time feasting. Not feasting in the lap of luxury but celebrating joyful abundance at ordinary religious and family parties. The water turned into wine at the wedding feast is a symbol of the abundance of the kingdom, sign also of the profound transformation which that kingdom brings, as well as of a deep and warming encouragement offered freely to all at the feast.

Thinking about joy made me realise once more that it is a more radiant and inner emotion than happiness, pleasure or laughter. It is a gift of the Spirit and we are blessed in those few moments in life when we glimpse it.