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kept in His hands
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NACR Daily Meditation for Saturday, Jul 23, 2005


The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton
and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."'
Luke 7:33-34

One of the accusations made by the religious leaders of Jesus' day was
that he partied with undesirables. It was unacceptable in their minds to
associate in any way with undesirables. That would make you 'unclean'.
But it was particularly unacceptable to party with undesirables. Then,
as now, religion was thought to be very serious business, much too serious
for the kind of celebrations that Jesus enjoyed. Religion was supposed
to be about intellectual abstractions and theological detail - not about
going to dinner parties with unsavory characters.

In his teachings Jesus draws extensively on the Old Testament themes
of the Sabbath, the Jubilee and the messianic feast to make a point. Jesus
told many stories about God's love for celebration. When the lost is found,
the finder throws a feast. When the prodigal returns, the father has a
party. When a single person repents, the angels rejoice. And on and on.
Jesus, the man of sorrows, was also a man of celebration and joy.

Like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, we may sometimes find ourselves
resistant to joy. We may resist joy because we fear disappointment. Or
we may resist joy because it doesn't seen congruent with being a serious
minded person of faith. We may resist joy because we have been shamed or
even punished for being overly enthusiastic as a child.

It is a risk to make room for joy in our lives. Joy requires that we
be open to the possibility of experiencing conflicting emotions. If we
wait to experience joy until our anger, grief and self-condemnation are
completely gone, then we will wait a long time. But it is possible to experience
joy without denying or avoiding other more painful emotions. We can follow
Jesus' example of joy today. When joy comes, we can receive it. It is
a good gift from God.

Lord of joy,
Lord of celebration,
Open my heart to the possibility of joy today.
Help me to tolerate the confusion that comes when sorrow and joy
live side by side in my heart.
Give me the courage to
joyfully celebrate life.

Copyright 1991 Dale and Juanita Ryan
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