CHRISTIAN JOY

Psalm 28:7

“My heart hath trusted in God, and I am helped : Therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise Him”.

On the one hand, we are told to repent our sins and failings, and on the other hand, we dance for joy because of our trust in God.

The idea that Christians should be dour, joyless people perpetually in mourning is, I think a false one. Our mourning for sins is private, we think on our sins, we re-pent – rethink our lives in the light of our remembrance of our sins.

Then we get on with life and much of that is our dancing for joy – the joy of the life that God has given us, the joy of the love of God, the joy of our very being as His creatures. We have so much to be joyful about.

When we help others who are in need, we can do so in joy. When we pray at the Divine Liturgy we should do so in joy. We have confessed our sins beforehand and been assured of His forgiveness, so joy should ensue. The singing of the Liturgy should burst forth in joy.

Christ nowhere enjoined a sour joyless way of living. Yes, he lamented that Jerusalem – the people in her – had not known the hour of His presence in her, and accordingly repented, then reacted with joy at the presence of their Messiah. But He did not say that we should as the Pharisees go around in public in sackcloth and ashes, in fact he forbade such behaviour.

Christianity is the religion that brings us to quiet joy. Joyfulness, because Christianity tells us that Christ Himself did the major hard work for us, enabling us to be released from the bonds of sin and fault and failing.

Christianity is about repentance first and joy second – but both are there and we should have both. We do repent, we confess our sins, we are careful to rehearse them before God, and be assured that our forgiveness is forthcoming. That done, we are joyful in our release and we thank and praise God for having made this release available to us through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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