Finding Joy

As we plan this one hundredth issue of Reformed Worship, the skies outside my window are filled with low-hanging clouds. The earth itself is digging in for the season when nature’s beauty is bleak. Only a few papery leaves cling to the bare branches of the trees. It’s dark when I arrive at work and dark when I drive home again.

At my church, we’ve endured a spate of elderly saints being called home within the span of a few weeks. One was a stalwart man in my care district whose dry humor delighted all who took turns driving him to church. Another was a seventyish widow who, after losing her husband to cancer far too young, decided not to dwell only in the pain of his loss but sallied forth and traveled to see what she could see—until her memory was taken away and she could no longer decide where she would go and what she would do. Those we lost included beloved grandmas and grandpas, parents, siblings.

The economy is still stagnant, and any talk of “recovery” rings hollow to the many people who continue to search vainly for a job—people whose spirits have taken a beating. The political climate in this election season is . . . well, uglyis the word that comes to mind.

It’s enough to make the staunchest man or woman of faith feel a more than a little melancholy, let alone those of us who can best be described as struggling, ­garden-variety Christians.

And yet.

And yet, there is reason for joy when we have eyes to see what God is doing in our lives and in the congregations that meet together each week to celebrate our redemption and that of creation itself:

  • For sacraments celebrated: table and bread and wine and water, allowing us to reenact God’s faithfulness to God’s people from the beginning.
  • For God’s Word faithfully preached, week in, week out—sometimes memorably and with piercing insights, other times less memorably. But always it goes out like seed that takes root in unpredictable patterns.
  • For music: for instruments that make our hearts soar and for the miraculous economy of song texts that express the heart of the gospel in a few stanzas.
  • For art and the visual gifts our fellow worshipers bring to open our eyes to God’s grace and beauty and favor.
  • For those who plan services, stitch banners, choose music, preach, take offerings, and weave all of these elements into the amazing bit of time we call worship.
  • For the children who come forward each week to give and receive a blessing before children’s worship, and who by their very presence demonstrate God’s faithfulness.
  • And for the RW readers who share their best worship experiences with fellow readers.

Yes, for you. You are the ones we imagine as we sort through the articles that cross our desks—solicited and unsolicited. You are the ones we hope to serve as we edit, pursue copyright permissions, consider layout and design. You are the ones who bring joy to our shared purpose: preparing worship that is pleasing in God’s sight.

And so we celebrate the twenty-fifth-year anniversary of Reformed Worshipwith joy, keeping our eyes open to see what God has in store for the body of Christ over the next decades as we anticipate the greater joy of God’s kingdom come and God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven.

Reformed Worship 100 © June 2011, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.