Posted by George Morrison

Ode to Joy             Word on the Week                    12th August 2023.

I have borrowed the title of Schiller’s poem to pay tribute to Joy Cantwell-Moore who went to be with her Lord and was buried this week.   During her life she radiated joy.   She will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.

Sometimes when parents name their children the name they choose does not appear to be all that appropriate.   Not so with Joy!   It was an inspired name which she adorned with her Christian profession and shared with others.  In fact, the old acronym JOY – Jesus, Others, Yourself; reflecting the order of priorities in the Christian life, fitted well with her selfless life.

All this comes from the Bible.   In no other religion or literature is joy so conspicuous as in Christianity.   It is the measure of a healthy faith, enriching all our talents and affections and merging them together.  

On a wonderful occasion when the Israelites were restored to their land after years of exile they requested Ezra the priest to bring out the Book of Moses.   There had been a famine of the Word and when the people heard it read they realised their shortcomings and were sorrowful.  Nehemiah, the governor, proclaimed the day sacred to the Lord and there was to be no mourning or weeping.

Instead Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8 verse 10).

In Galatia the church had lapsed into legalism, away from the life of freedom they enjoyed when they first heard the Gospel. When the Apostle discovered this on his second visit, he asked the question, “What has happened to your joy” (Galatians 4 verse 15). 

Wonderfully they regained their joy in Jesus and the Apostle was able to write to them “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5 verse 6).

This love comes from the Lord and expresses itself as Joy, the second of the nine fruits of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control (verses 22/3).

It was said of Jesus at the time of crucifixion, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12 verse 2).   May it be that our lovely Joy is experiencing that joy now in heaven.