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My text is St. John 15 vs.11 (King James' Version)

Edited by Mrs. Paul H. Walker

Vs. 11: "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might retain in you; and that your joy might be full."

We have come to this new land at great personal sacrifice to be a witness to and stand firm in our faith; and Christianity stands firm so long as men who have it are invested with JOY.

In no other religion, and in no other literature, is joy so conspicuous as in Christianity ad in the Bible. Physically and Psychologically speaking, it is the criterion of health whereby all the powers and affections are enriched and harmonised. So in religion it denotes the satisfaction of the soul at attaining its desire.

For joy has something within itself which is beyond joy and sorrow. This something is called blessedness. Blessedness is the eternal element of you, that which makes it possible for joy to include in itself the sorrow out of which it arises, and which it takes into itself. The supreme example of this is sorrow in the contemplation of our Savior Jesus Christ on the cross, coupled with the joy it brings to know his great Sacrifice accomplished in our redemption from Sin, and our reconciliation with God.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus calls the poor, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst, those who are persecuted "blsessed." amd He says to them: "Rehoice and be glad!" Joy within sorrow is possible to those who are blessed, to those in whom joy has the dimension of the eternal.

Jesus will give His joy to His disciples NOW. He said they shall get it after He has left them, which means in THIS life. And Paul asks the Phillipians to have joy NOW. This cannot be otherwise, for blessedness is the expression of God's eternal fulfillment of our reconciliation with Him. Blessed are those whoh participate in this fulfillment here and now by faith in Him. Certainly eternal fulfillment must be seen ot only as eternal which is present, but also as eternal which is future.

But if it is not seen in the present, it cannot be seen at all.

This joy which has in itself the depth of blessedness is asked for and promised in the Bible. It preserves in itself its opposite, sorrow. It provides the foundation for happiness and pleasure. It is present in all levels of our striving for fulfilment. It consecrates and directs us. It does not diminish or weaken us.

This blessedness does not take away the risks and dangers of the joy of life. It makes this joy possible in pleasure and pain, in happiness and unhappiness, in esctasy and sorrow. Where there is joy, there is fulfillment. And where there is fulfillment, there is joy. In fulfillment and joy the inner aim of life, the meaning of creation, and the end of salvation are attained.

[From a Concordance and "The New Being" by Paul Tillich, Scribner, 1995, pp. 150-151--as quoted in St. Bede's bulliten of 22 Dec. 1996.]

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