Rejoice! This is the day to rejoice!
Who do most want to hang around? Are you drawn to gloomy people or people who have this endless smile on their faces that makes their whole countenance be inviting, and even contagious. I am drawn to the latter. I am a cheerleader, at heart. So, I am excited to read and meditate over words of joy in the next few days in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Read with me, rejoice and be glad while learning from the “master of happy”. Let our hearts well up with joy unspeakable and full of the glory of God in us! Yes!
Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves–the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us. Let it!
Eugene Peterson, in his introduction to this letter says, “But the happiness is not a word we can understand by looking it up in the dictionary. In fact, none of the qualitites of the hristian life can be learned out of a book. Something more like apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us, by his or her entire behavior, what it is. Moments of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate association with a ‘master,’ picking up subtle but absolutely essential things, such as timing and rhythm and ‘touch.'”
When we read what Paul wrote to the Christian believers in the city of Philippi, we find ourselves in the company of just such a master. Paul doesn’t tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He simply and unmistakably IS happy. None of his circumstances contribute to his joy: He wrote from a jail cell, his work was under atttack by competitors, and after twety years or so of hard traveling in the service of Jesus, he was tired and would have welcomed some relief.
But circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that Paul experiences from the inside. For it is a life that no only happened at a certain point in history, but continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of those who receive him, and then continues to spill out all over the place. Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this “spilling out” quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.
Philippians 1, The Message
“Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the Christians in Philippi, pastors and ministers included. We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our master, Jesus Christ.”
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamation of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer.”
Dear Heavenly Father, Scores of people who have been wonderful examples of joy in all circumstances flood my mind and I give thanks to You for them. I pray for Your hand of encouragement and hope to fill our hearts today. May our faces reflect Your glory no matter what we will face. We love You, Lord. Thank you for loving us first and spilling out for us, Jesus Christ…our Lord and Savior. Go with us through this day for it is a day to rejoice and be glad as we look up and see you around every corner. In Jesus Name, Amen