“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
Yesterday, a colleague shared an experience he once had visiting an elderly member of a congregation. The woman suffered from Alzheimers and was moving into the later stages of the disease. Alzheimers causes a great deal of disorientation, especially in communicating. This disorientation leads to frustration which eventually manifests itself as anger in the person suffering from the disease. As people move into the later stages their spirit finds little rest.
The day he visited the woman she was agitated, physically and spiritually. He found there was little he could do to communicate or calm her soul. So he decided to simply start reading Psalm 23 to her. As he read the psalm, a calm came over her and changed the dynamics of the encounter. He then offered her communion, which she indicated she wanted to receive. Then a funny thing happened in the breaking of the bread. The agitation was gone, peace descended upon this compromised soul and she smiled.
As we talked about the experience, we both shared our amazement at how often this happens. It is hard to describe if you have not witnessed it, but it is extremely powerful. Music can produce a similar experience, but not the same peace and joy which comes with sharing communion. I feel these experiences draw me deep within the mystery of Christ. The joy of the communion recipient becomes my joy and our joy becomes complete.
This is more than an experience of those who are physically compromised. A neighboring camp director once asked me about our program at Camp Shalom. He wanted to know what we were doing in hopes to find a successful model. I told him, he could not do what we did. Confused, I explained, his was not a religious camp. Our day included 5 sessions connected to Bible study and worship. Our program was not designed with an emphasis on the activities we offered, but a belief in Jesus. A belief that Jesus came so his joy might be our joy and our joy might be complete.
I love this passage in scripture, because it captures one of my deepest beliefs. It is the truth I want my children to know. The one truth I think every person needs to know. Worship, Bible study, and prayer are not disciples of good behavior, but encounters with a joy that cannot be contained within any one soul.
Click to read: John 15: 9-11
- When have you encountered a joy which has transformed you?
- Where would you like to experience joy in your life?
- How can worship, prayer and Bible study produce an enduring joy?
- Where can you share joy with others?
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