As we journey through Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, looking at the theme of joy, I really feel that we as a church community need to delve into expressing joy in all circumstances.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NRSV)
We are called to a life of joy. As I stated last Sunday, joy and happiness are not the same thing, although they can be linked. Here we are looking at a joy which only comes from knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.
As we bring this into serving, let us be clear: we have only one master, we are only serving Christ.
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24, NRSV)
But through serving him we are called to be loving our neighbor, sharing the love that God has lavished on us, as Fern spoke of last week too (1 John 4:19). As I write this I am overcome with joy – it is such a blessing to be able to be your pastor, to be walking with you as we journey together, to be more and more like Jesus.
You may be thinking "what brings such Joy, especially at this time of a pandemic, where we are unable to meet – where our developing of relationship has been squashed?”. Well, simply put it is because of God that I am here. A non-Lutheran, Anglican at heart, reformed pastor from England called to minister to the community of St. John – That I did not see coming! And all because I went for a coffee one morning and bumped into a group of people talking about the people of peace principle. That brings me joy. God’s plan, even when we don’t see it as we are immersed in our serving, will always come to good. It leads us to the places he wants us to be, the places he is calling us to be.
Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. (Philippians 2:14-15, NRSV)
Hold on to joy in all things. There will be things you don’t like doing, you don’t feel you’re good at, but lay that aside and concentrate on why you’re doing it. If we are serving Christ, and he should be the only master we look to, then all things will work to the good.
In the Common Worship Holy Baptism service the congregation speaks these words over those coming forward for baptism: “Fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world, and the devil, and remain faithful to Christ to the end of your life.” And in the Lutheran Book of Worship a member of the congregation will say, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.”
As disciples of Christ, we are called to, in all things, glorify God, and do so as though we are doing them for God himself. In putting on Christ, in serving him as we share him with the world, we put on, and live in, joy.