Easter Day: Inside joy

Three crosses on Mount Calvary at sunset (photo: Jill Fromer) BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship and Local Radio make six journeys Inside Lent

Inside joy - 20th April 2014

"Silence is the perfectest herald of joy" is a quote from William Shakespeare's play Much ado About Nothing.

Joy is not an everyday word but one reserved for a special event or a rare occasion.

Exercises and Readings

  • Take 10 minutes to relax and imagine yourself as Mary in the garden. What do you hear, smell and touch as you come to the tomb? What do you feel inside?
  • What do you feel when you reflect on joy? Can you explore a moment of pure joy? Can you put that moment into words?
  • Name three things that you enjoy and explain why.

To a degree we can work for happiness and we can seek pleasure but the unique character of joy is that it comes, unearned, as pure gift.

Spontaneous response to this sense of gift is there in what we enjoy and the things in which we rejoice.

There is joy in the face of a mother when her baby is born.

We enjoy the gift of music and rejoice at every unexpected triumph over adversity.

Joy is strongly associated with those times of real creativity and new life.

There is about joy a sense of wonder perfectly captured by Shakespeare: "Silence is the perfectest herald of joy".

Reflection

The accounts of the first Easter morning are remarkable for the pregnant silence that seems to pervade the garden in the early morning.

It is as if the light of resurrection life dawns very slowly. In to that silence comes disbelief and perplexity about what has happened to the body of Jesus.

Theft of the body is the immediate thought that came to mind. Mary is left weeping into that waiting silence outside the tomb.

The risen Jesus comes to Mary but not until he speaks does she recognise him. She clearly wants to touch him but is told to go and tell the disciples what she has witnessed.

The silence is broken, not by a feeling of relief as you might expect with the news that Jesus was alive, but by an unexpected welling up of joy.

As doubt gives way to conviction joy is the spontaneous reaction to the gift of new life and new creation.

In later years this is just how St.Paul came to understand it.

"When a person is in Christ there is a new creation." Resurrection is not a past event but a continuing and present reality.

Paul was convinced that to be baptised was to be one with Christ in his death and to be one with Christ in his risen life.

This journey through Lent has taken us inside some familiar experiences of discipleship- temptation, doubt, anger, love, fear and hope.

Yet, in the end, and through it all, it is the unexpected and unearned gift of joy that comes with that new creation, life made new, on Easter Day.

Prayer

Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life: give us strength to walk in his way and grant us grace to rejoice in his truth that we may share his risen life; who is alive and reigns now and forever.

More from the Inside Lent series...

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