The Joy of the Lord

posted Jul 1, 2022, 7:40 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Ordinary Time.


I’ve had two statements running through my mind these last couple of weeks. One I will speak about in my sermon this Sunday and the second I’d like to share with you now, “ . . . and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8.10).


Once again, MRC people, it has been a week, and as many of us are experiencing a collective grief, I have been repeating this Scripture text over and over again. The question I keep asking myself is, What is the joy of the Lord? Certainly joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit. That makes sense. But what else? What brings God joy? In its historical context, the people had just heard the Torah read to them, and in repentance they began weeping, realizing their betrayal of God. And that’s when Nehemiah tells them not to mourn, that God’s joy is your strength. 


I wonder if God’s joy is this: It was the good pleasure of God’s will before the foundation of the world that all creation and people are gathered together, united, and made whole because it was God’s delight to do so. God wants to see us flourish, to trust that we are offered and given grace. So believe it or not, we are God’s joy, and grace is our strength (Ephesians 1.3-14). 


Daily, hourly, everlasting, ridiculous, expansive grace. 


This grace is available for each one of us, all God’s people living as one in joy and thanksgiving, and we only need to open our arms wide to receive what has already been given to us. Oh, to have a world where all people could see how much they are loved and how much God loves everyone! That would take away a lot of grief, wouldn’t it? And certainly would bring God joy, not to mention us too.


I understand that it is summer and many of us are traveling and off participating in fun activities, but, you are encouraged, especially in these times, to come to worship this Fourth Sunday after Pentecost in person or on Facebook live to be strengthened and renewed. I will be preaching from 2 Kings 5.1-14 and my sermon title is Do Something! Mike Steib is our featured musician and he will be singing “We Gather Together” for our Prelude and “America the Beautiful” for the Anthem. And, we will gather around God’s table of grace and celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together.


Daily, hourly, everlasting, ridiculous, expansive grace. That is our strength; we are God’s joy. Imagine that!


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,


Pastor Trish


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