The longing for happiness is universal. Most people’s experience is that happiness is something that happens for them, not while they are pursuing it, but when they are involved in something else – helping another, working efficaciously, being in an honest relationship, being at prayer, forgiving another or being forgiven, when being truly human.
Beyond happiness there is joy. Joy lives in deeper recesses of the heart than does happiness. Unlike happiness it can transcend its opposites whether they be sorrow, terror, illness. It can embrace all of these and more. Grateful people are joyful people.
The third Sunday of Advent is known as Joy Sunday (from the Latin ‘Gaudate’ meaning ‘Rejoice’). Aware that Christ has come into the world and continues to do so, Christians are filled with a joy that goes beyond human suffering. It is a joy that eggs them on to live justly and welcomingly bringing joy to others.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty saviour; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals- Zephaniah 3:17-18
Lord God, giver of immortal gladness, enlighten your Church as it looks forward to the birthday of Christ. May your followers be joyful apostles for justice and welcome. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thou, O Father, Christ our Brother -- From ‘Joyful, joyful’ by Henry van Dyke
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine
The London Community Gospel Choir sings ‘Joyful, Joyful’ (lyrics below).
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Hail Thee as the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
Mortals, join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began;
Father-love is reigning o'er us...
... Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee (as above)