Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Let us rejoice in the Lord

I thought "Let us rejoice in the Lord" makes for a pretty dull title for the second Joyful mystery. Mary visits Elizabeth, John the Baptist leaps for joy in the womb, Elizabeth praises God, and then Mary does. Not exactly the stuff of legends and epic folk tales.

As dull as this may be, I think we have in this scene three essential ingredients for authentic Christian fellowship (in no particular order): rejoicing, togetherness, and paying attention to the Lord. We have all had our fill of Sundays where everyone gets together to focus on the Lord but rejoicing is the furthest thing from anyone's mind because the only thing on the mind is "when will this be over?" We have all been to many joyous gatherings with others where the presence of the Lord is all but ignored (he often appears as a newcomer to a crowd already familiar with one another). Many of us have personal preferences (music style, natural surroundings, favorite subjects) that drive us into a joyful yet solitary experiences with the Lord. As valuable as having two out of three is, we can and must strive for all three together.

From what I have read, pilgrimmages may have provided all three elements of togetherness, rejoicing, and focus on the Lord. These waned in popularity (perhaps due to civil unrest) but they see to be coming back. Events like Urbana, World Youth Day (did you know that the Pope's advisors told him it was a dumb idea, kids these days only want sex drugs and rock music, and no one will come), or Taize have drawn millions over the years. Those fortunate enough to participate in such an event, often treasure this as a once in a lifetime experience.

The Holy Scriptures have given us a beautiful portrait of authentic Christian fellowship. Perhaps we will not experience it often or at all in this life, but we must yearn for it in the same way that we desire to "go to heaven".

As a final point to ponder, I would like us to consider Elizabeth's unborn child John - who leapt for joy in the womb. Let us therefore remember that even the very young can rejoice in the presence of the Lord. Even more importantly, let us also remember that Our Lord, like any good family member, takes particular delight in the presence of the young ones. And if you would be so kind, please remember these two things the next time you plan a worship service or fellowhip evening - and remember to invite the children and babies. Despite the crying and the distractions and the discipline issues, they do bring completeness to the event.

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