“Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still could not believe [but] they were so full of joy and amazement” – Luke 24:36-40
Where does joy come from? In the Gospel of Luke the source of the disciples’ joy is clear; Jesus is alive! They are suddenly reunited with a loved one they had thought they’d never see again.
This kind of reunion would surely fill any of us with bewildering joy and amazement. What heart isn’t swept up watching loved ones eagerly embrace at airports? However, this kind of experience is generally not an everyday occurrence and the scriptures call us to an everyday kind of joy (1 Thessalonian 5:16).
So I wonder, how is joy sustained? How do we find the well spring of joy so that we might return to its waters when wonder and amazement has waned?
Is joy something that we are given? Is joy a byproduct of the right conditions coming together in our life? Is it a skill that can be learned and practiced?
Joy was a cultural marker of the early church. Letters written in the second century from those who observed Christians describe the early church as joyous and eager to praise God saying,
“They love all men, and are persecuted by all
When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life”
“Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God…they rejoice and give thanks”
Throughout this week we will explore the scriptures written by and about the early church in our search for the source of joy.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh