joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart


joy
Those who sow with tears, will reap with songs of joy.    Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return  with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them…  Psalm 126


Joy is really important for mission.  Joy deep within you.  Joy deep within your church.  Joy that has a constant source. Joy that never runs out.

There was a man I once knew, who used the phrase ‘deep joy’ as a form of punctuating sentences he used.  If some good news was shared, he would respond with the phrase ‘deep joy’.  If a mutual arrangement was made: ‘deep joy’.  If he was offered an unexpected gift: ‘deep joy’.  It became his Pavlovian exclamation to almost anything, or at least it seemed to be so.  He was aiming to convey a joy that was deeper than fleeting happiness.   A joy that he believed came from God.  Sadly, in some circles, it became a subject of mirth, to the point where his catchphrase was featured on t-shirts worn by his friends.  But was he on to something?

There is a wide range of things which bring us joy.  A good movie.  A compliment.  A relaxed meal with friends.  Seeing somebody change for the better. West Ham’s first win of the season.  But like the Psalmist we know that life is not always joyful.  We know that other feelings can crowd in and joy can get lost.  This doesn’t mean that we should always be smiling and happy.  It’s wonderful if you are, but the reality is that joy is something we can choose to have.  It might take some effort, but it can become an integral part of our faith, even though we may not show it at all times.  Joy can always be there as part of our make-up; one of the deeper ingredients of our life and faith.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Paul encourages us to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ in Galatians and part of this is knowing the joy of the Spirit.   We can experience this joy when we follow Paul’s advice.  It is a gift to us, but we need to receive it with open arms and hearts.  We might have to turn ourselves to God in a deliberate act of meditation or action to receive the joy he gives to us.  Each of us will do it differently, but we should take the time to receive and know the joy of the Holy Spirit!

And how does this have a link to the mission life of our church?  Joy is foundational to our faith.  Maybe, if we experience the joy of the Holy Spirit more, we might find our faith would shine brighter and longer into our communities.  When we are joyful, we feel positive, energised and confident.  The joy of the Holy Spirit could help us in our mission as a church.  It could be the wellspring for ideas, creativity and engagement with our community.  We may never know when our joy might make a difference to someone that we meet.  So let’s be joyful.  Let’s know joy deep down in our heart.

 

 

 

love

‘The World was made to be a Scene of Love, And all the Earth a Theatre doth prove           Of those Affections, which we ought like Wise Obligd and Holy men to exercise’                                Thomas Traherne

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Thousands of people have written of love.  Very often in futility or in fun, most often unsatisfactorily to us.  We most probably all have our favourite Shakespearean sonnet or 18th Century poem or Ed Sheeran song about love.  The words of Traherne point us to love being central to how the world functions.  It is a fascinating and alluring theme. We may also know what it is to show love to others or to feel loved by someone.  St Paul includes love as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

‘But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’            Galatians 5:22-23, The Living Bible

What does love have to do with mission?  It may seem a bit airy-fairy to suggest that love is at the heart of all Christian mission, but it is. Love is integral to our engagement with our communities.  Love for ourselves. Love for God. Love for neighbour.

We may be familar with some of the comfortable words in scripture with regard to love, but do they inspire us?  Do they get us out of bed? Do they help us expand our view of mission? How do they translate to our day-to-day lives?  The love that is defined in Paul’s letter to the Galatians is that agapê love which is so hard for us to embrace.   It is a love that is unconditional.  It is a love that lives. It is a love that goes beyond our frail, human understanding.  We find this love hard to grasp, because it is counter-cultural. We wonder if God really can love everyone.  Some people are just hard to love!  We definitely need some help to love everyone.  We can have this kind of love, it is the love which God’s Holy Spirit will fill us with…but we have to remember to ask.

So what? If mission is important to us, then so is love.  We love our communities to reach out in mission. Yes, even the bits which we are not sure about.  That road we don’t walk down, the place where the kids hang around, the people who are different to us and even the people who sit on the other side of the church to us! We don’t just love them with an imperfect self-serving love, but with a love which knows no boundaries and will be there forever.  And where do we get this love from?  We ultimately get it from God, through his Holy Spirit, but we see evidence of it all around us.

We can see this love in each other. We can see it in the needs of our community.  We can see it when we joyfully celebrate in church together.  Very often it is only a fleeting glimpse; if only we could bottle it up and access it whenever we were feeling low on love!  The brilliant truth for us is that this love is available to us.  It has been flowing through the church for centuries.  Are you walking in the flow of God’s love?  Is your mission inspired by the agapê love that Paul writes about?

Please be encouraged that one of the key factors in mission is the love it springs from. Love is one of the key resources for mission.  Without love our mission could become just another task on the to-do list. With love our Christian mission has an added dimension of pointing those around us, slowly but surely, towards the loving arms of God.  We let God do the rest.

 

 

mission in Tandridge Deanery

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Trevellas Cove, N Cornwall

Here in Tandridge Deanery, we are starting something new!  There is going to be a Deanery Mission Enabler to walk alongside parishes in their mission projects and ideas. This blog will be a place to read and explore some ideas about mission and (with permission) will tell some of the stories of mission in the Deanery.

Please do be in touch with me if I can be of any help to you. I will be sending out a monthly email and updating this blog once a week.  You can also email me or phone me anytime.

Sometimes mission can seem like a daunting prospect. There are questions which nag away at us about it; Will it all be left up to me?  What if my idea is rubbish? What if nobody turns up? How will I know if it is successful? And that is before we have engaged in the pesky task of defining what we mean by mission in the first place.

For the first couple of months in this blog, we are going to explore how the fruits of the Holy Spirit, according to Paul’s letter to the Galatians, can help us with our mission.

There might be some answers as we walk the journey together. Then again, there might not be any answers… but I hope to provide resources, support and friendship along the way.

James