Why are we not more joyful? Christians as a whole, Presbyterians in particular, why are we not filled with more joy?
This Sunday, Palm Sunday, the crowds will shout for joy for Christ’s arrival. They will praise his name and celebrate his entrance. Easter Sunday, the disciples will be happily amazed at Jesus’ resurrection. Generations to follow will joyfully share stories and sing with delight. The church will commemorate Easter Sunday and every Sunday as a day of jubilant remembrance. Men and women will dedicate their lives with pleasure to following this resurrected messiah and his teaching. They will serve Christ and others they meet with gladness.
But why are we, modern day, Presbyterian, mainline Protestant, reformed type Christians not more joyful? The low-hanging-fruit answer is that we are a faith that is mostly head and much less heart. We have been dubbed the “frozen chosen” for a reason. We do not dance and sing with hands in the air. We do not even clap well. And there might be something to all of that.
The Protestant work ethic might also get in the way. We are constantly working. We value work above leisure and joy. We are suspicious of “down time”. “Aren’t we supposed to be doing something right now? What have I forgotten?” Or even worse, “Now that I have a break, what more can I do?” Or even worse than both of those, “What is next to do?” There is a wall of separation between us, our faith, and actually enjoying it being lived out because, in the back of our minds, we are always supposed to be some place else doing something else.
Often our faith is treated like a bad marriage: it receives our leftover time, leftover energy, leftover effort, and leftover money. There is no joy to be found because there is no joy left to give.
As we begin Holy Week and move from the joy of Palm Sunday to the joy of Easter Sunday. My hope is that we actually enjoy these moments. For a few moments a few times this week, set aside everything else, be refreshed, be reenergized, and joyfully celebrate these high points of our faith. Live into everything it means. Rejoice with the entire family of the Christian faith. Maybe even dance and clap a little ..
by Rev. Timothy Blodgett