I am happy because I want to be

The good news brings joy when it is preached in an understandable way and touches our hearts. Our divine services in June will encourage us to think about joy and live our joy.

“Joy in Christ”, our 2015 motto, which won over our hearts, is back. “Joy is an excellent indicator of our spiritual maturity,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said in his New Year’s message three years ago and mentioned four points: “We feel joy over the salvation in Christ; over fellowship of the Christians; we find joy in serving; and we are delighted over the gifts and powers we receive in daily life.” In summing up, he said: “Our joy in Christ will increase.”

Joy that increases, that triggers something is the focal point of the upcoming Sunday services.

From the past …

God loves all human beings, every single one, regardless of human classifications such as age, gender, race, or criminal record. The fact of being loved and accepted by God from time immemorial is the reason for our joy here and now. “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10: 20). This is not a privilege. Nor is it an advantage that we have others, because God loves everyone. There are those who have had the grace to recognise this love already in their earthly lives. Others only recognised it at the end of their lives or even only in the promised kingdom of peace.

Telling our contemporaries about the comprehensive and lasting love of God is a humble yet courageous mission that is born out of joy and gratitude.

… into the present

“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100: 2), is the invitation that is expressed on the second Sunday. This includes being active as a servant of God, acting in the power of the Holy Spirit, and telling others about all the benefits God has bestowed upon us. When dealing with our neighbour, let us keep his salvation in mind, for then we will be sure to act in accordance with the Lord’s wishes. This is service to the Lord.

Serving the congregation means making salvation in Christ accessible to all and not becoming a stumbling stone; imparting values and not giving good advice; and thanking and worshipping God in the congregation.

… and into the future

Joyful anticipation of our future is the focal point on the third Sunday of June. The sermon will be based on Hebrews 10: 23: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Five reasons for a life full of hope are developed: hope in the return of Jesus Christ, in our own resurrection, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, eternal life, and the victory of Christ over evil that is associated with it. Summing up, the Chief Apostle writes: “We profess our hope for the future and look forward to it.”

We express this hope by continuing steadfastly in fellowship, by loving our neighbour, and by serving.

Joy in heaven

The focal point of the fourth Sunday in June—which is in preparation for the divine service for the departed a week later—is joy in heaven. All human beings, including children of God, are sinners who are dependent on the grace of God. Out of love for Christ, and the awareness that we ourselves depend on the mercy and compassion of God, we intercede for those who seek God. Every time a soul repents and comes back to God, every time we experience the forgiveness of sins together, and every celebration of Holy Communion create joy in heaven and in the congregation.

Telling people to be happy will rarely bring about the desired effect. People’s circumstances and their feelings are just too different. But people themselves can come to the recognition that there are indeed reasons to be happy in God and with God. This then becomes a philosophy of life for them: “I am happy because I want to be happy!”

Joy is a powerful motor that drives us to serve God and our neighbour.

Photo: LeslieAnn - stock.adobe.com

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Oliver Rütten
Divine service