Walking into the Sound of God’s Joy

Week of December 13, 2015

What does joy sound like?   How can we tell that the shriek of a child is joy and not pain?   Joy can take on many forms.  It can be the sound of good news from a doctor saying the cancer is in remission.  It can be an acceptance letter from a college or university that one longs to attend.  It can happen in the stillness of the night when the planning of the perfect Christmas gift has gone on without a hitch and the surprise will be outstanding. Society wants us to find joy in the gifts received.  Companies have spent time and energy on commercials, and advertising to catch our eye.  They tell us that joy happens when the gift is received.  From cars to jewelry, from clothes to gaming systems, they tell us that joy is guaranteed when these things are delivered.

For me, joy has been transformed over the years.  I used to love to look for hidden presents before Christmas Day. I used to want the latest and the greatest gadget. However, as the years have added up, I have been drawn into a deeper experience.  Joy is watching a child receive the gift of absolution and skip back to their pew. For me it meant God had intervened. It happens when little ones recite their prayers from a place in their hearts that cannot be taught by memorization.  When that moment happens, there is joy. It happens for parents, when after going through a difficult time together, they know their spouse will never leave them.  Joy is becoming more in tune to when and where God intervenes.  I see it in some of the people I visit when I do my communion calls.  The joy and peace they find comes not from bending the pastor’s ear, but from the reception of what I have brought to them, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  The joy in their eyes comes from a deep place and what they receive is what they have longed for, time with our Savior.

Lasting joy can’t be found in the things of this world.  While I am happy to have had many opportunities to be present at great sporting events, run many marathons and play some phenomenal golf courses, these things are just on the level of happiness, they are not joy.  The joy comes from a place that sustains happiness, and a place that moves the heart in such a way that it can never be the same.  I have the privilege to walk into joy as members of our community enter eternal life.  It is a blessing.  I was there when both my mom and dad died; the peace present there was something that changed my heart.  It was joy to know that God embraced them and their journey was complete.

Many things will bring happiness to this season as packages are unwrapped and paper and ribbon fly through the air, yet only one gift will bring joy, unspeakable joy. It comes to us this Christmas. Be sure not to miss it. He longs for you to receive His very self.

The sound of joy is the sound of the Savior.

Rev. John J. Ouper