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Shockwaves of Joy


When confronted with the risen Jesus, his followers were not happy.

They were shocked, they were disorientated, they were anxious, they were not happy.

It was the full force of a ferocious joy that had confronted them.


Joy can manifest itself as an involuntary smile, but the smile is not because you’re happy.

Happiness can make you smile, but it is not joy.  Happiness is the delusional quest of those destined to remain terminally unfulfilled.  To make happiness a goal is to concede prematurely to death.


Joy is something else.

Resurrection joy had crashed into the disciples with the force of a tidal wave.

Joy is the flood of exultation,

It engulfs and overflows, it sweeps its victims off their feet and carries them elsewhere.


Joy cannot be conjured up nor can it be manufactured.

Joy comes utterly from beyond, even if it wells up only from deep within.


Resurrection joy is earthy,

It is rooted in action and can only result in further action.

This is no sentiment dislocated from the harsh realities of the world as it is.

Joy is no consolation without immersion in relationship with others.

It brings no solace if sought in isolation from others.

It offers no comfort to the rugged individualist.


Joy is an unwarranted, unexpected gift.

But Joy arises from struggle, from a cause, from the active quest for liberation.

Joy takes root in profound collective frustration, when confronting impossible odds,

when love has exceeded the limits of reason and despair,

when care for others has driven you beyond the brink of inevitable failure.

Joy is the hidden and terrible presence of something that whispers its promise to destroy finality.


Joy proves itself the final slayer of futility.

It does not prevent failure but transforms it.

It does not recoil from death.

Joy is the outrageous and violent thief, stealing from Hades his most treasured privilege:

the final word.


This day is holy to our LORD: do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.


(Nehemiah 8:10b)



Robinson College Chapel, 28th April 2019