A LAMENT FROM THE PEOPLE:
The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – Matthew 4:16
Father, how much we need the reminder of our family history! – the good part, where You, the friend of sinners, call us Your friends, where You tell us You’ve got us, and You’re never going to let us go.
Father, You know how easily we assign ourselves a place in the back seat of some detention hall, hoping we’ll go unnoticed by You for awhile – and all the time the doorway to forgiveness, friendship and freedom is right in plain sight. Now here we are – and here You are, with us! Thank you for this idea you had about the Church, your Bride, your Family. This house is full of imperfect people with amazing stories of Your unbelievable goodness and faithfulness, even in the midst of difficulties and pain and failure. It’s part of that irresistible undercurrent of joy which pulls us onward, gets us out of bed, brings us here, fuels our prayers, our giving, our risking.
Father, we’re looking for You everywhere, especially now. Thank you for the glimpses of Your glory but, to be honest, we miss You. We’re longing for the crooked to become straight and the rough places plain. We need to confess again how quickly we forget how good You are. When we’re dissatisfied or disappointed or confused with how life goes with us, our hearts so quickly turn to other loves: some really not good, others with an appearance of good – but they’re a diversion, a way of avoiding the hard work of inviting You in and allowing You to have Your way in every single thing. Pain and disappointment have a way of pulling us away, even as your still small voice keeps nudging us to come closer, despite all. Forgive our proud, stubborn hearts. There is so much room in Your great heart of love for every single person You have made.
Come into this place; come into every heart this morning. Increase our capacity to wait, to expect, to listen, to long for You – first and above all. Show us what it really means to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer – no matter the outcome – so others see our kinship with Christ our Brother, the True Light of the world.
So whether or not the Fig trees bloom, or our vineyards produce grapes; though olive trees may be fruitless, and harvest time a failure; the sheep pens may be empty,and cattle stalls vacant but we will still celebrate with joy because the Lord God saves us. – Habakkuk 3:17-18
A RESPONSE FROM THE KING OF JOY:
My children, my precious children,
I take great joy in you.
It was with gladness and pride that I created this world and invited you into it.
I see by your troubled hearts that you’re aware of the cracks in the beauty. What was once a joy filled beautiful existence is now muted by sadness, moments of emptiness & loneliness.
You were robbed of the full joy I have for you.
But for the joy set before us I’ve given all I have to share the joy that I’ve known with you. Even to the point of giving my life.
Let My joy rule in your hearts.
In sadness and pain, fix your eyes on your King.
For those I have rescued will return. They will enter with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
I will make known to you the path of life:
I will fill you with joy, when you enter my presence.
I’m coming back to restore my full joy to you, but in the meantime rejoice and be glad in this day that I have made for you, lighting this candle of joy as a reminder that my joy is with you now.