Joy is about a sense of well-being, even in moments when it seems not to be what is happening around us.
December 12, 2021
How Much is Enough: Joy
Isaiah 12:2-6; Luke 3:10-14
Pastor Heather McColl
Isaiah 12:2-6; Luke 3:10-14
God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.” You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things; proclaim this throughout all the earth.” Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion, because the holy one of Israel is great among you.
The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He replied, “Collect no more than you are authorized to collect.” Soldiers asked, “What about us? What should we do?” He answered, “Don’t cheat or harass anyone, and be satisfied with your pay.”
How Much is Enough: Joy Isaiah 12: 2-6 Luke 3:10-14
There is no worse feeling for a preacher than to know that what you prepared on Thursday doesn’t fit where the community of faith is emotionally, spiritually, mentally, even physically, doesn’t fit where the gathered community of faith is on Sunday morning. This Sunday, we were supposed to talk about joy but in light of the storms which have affected so many, in light of the news of destruction and damage, in light of the news of death and loss, it would seem cold or callous to talk about joy without naming the pain and sorrow which surrounds so many right now.
All of us woke up to images of devastation, not only in our state but in several states. Many of us had family and friends calling to check on us when they heard the news. Many of us called family and friends in Western KY when we heard the news. All of us felt helpless as the scenes of destruction filled our screens. All of us prayed, seeking God’s comfort for those affected. All of our hearts are breaking as story after story of loss continues to be shared by so many.
Yesterday and again this morning, as I encountered scenes of devastation and destruction which is the reality for so many in our state right now, I was reminded once again of Isaiah’s words, “Shout and sing for joy city of Zion for the holy one of Israel is great among you”.
Isaiah wrote these words to a community also surrounded by devastation and destruction. They were separated from their homes. They were wondering where God was in the midst of all the sorrow, all the pain, where God was in all the loss which filled their lives. When Isaiah shared these words, he was not ignoring the people’s pain or sorrow. He was not making light of the suffering which they were facing at that moment. Rather, he was reminding the people that God was with them, that God remembered them, that God was surrounding them with comfort and peace.
Isaiah was reminding the people of what he knew to be true. He was holding on to the promises of God, promises which have sustained the people since the beginning of time, promises which were shared when they suffered as slaves in Egypt, when they wandered in the wilderness, promises which become their salvation during the exile, promise which even now offer hope for us as the people of God.
Just like before, Isaiah is reminding the people that God is at work in this world, bringing about healing and wholeness, that God will not forsake them, that God will not let this world have the last word. Isaiah is reminding the people that God will transform their sorrow into joy because he understood that this joy which God promises is not a false “everything is fine” mentality.
Rather this joy is about a sense of well-being, even in moments when it seems not to be what is happening around us. Isaiah knew that this joy is grounded in who God is, a God who is faithful, a God who is steadfast, a God who loves us more than we will ever know. It is grounded in the knowledge that our God will not let death or destruction have the last word.
Isaiah is reminding the people that our story, our song as the people of God is a story, is a song of joy. It is a story, it is a song of new life. It is a story, it is a song of impossible possibilities. It is a story, it is a song where we enter into the work of the Kingdom of God, where we find healing and wholeness for all of God’s creation. It is a story, it is a song where we find the courage and the strength to say that it is well with my soul. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, December 12, 2021 – How Much is Enough: Joy Isaiah 12: 2-6 Luke 3:10-14