Joy

A visiting preacher whom the congregation of St. Agnes-by-the-Gasworks Kirk had not met before was due to arrive by train on the evening before the Sunday service

A small deputation arrived at the railway station in good time and patiently waited for the train to come in.  After an hour and a half’s delay, in it rolled.

As the passengers disembarked, the reception committee looked and better looked for a man in a clerical collar.

By now there was only a handful of passengers left walking along the platform, but none of them wearing a dog collar

Then, at last they thought they had spotted him.  A serious looking man dressed in dark clothes.

One of the group went up to the barrier just as he was coming through.

         ‘Excuse me’ he asked, ‘Are you a minister?’

To which the man replied:

 ‘No, I’m only suffering from haemorrhoids!’

How sad it is that Christianity is regarded as some kind of painful, joyless existence.

There is an Apocryphal Letter attributed to one Lentulus ……..

In it, he is purported to have written about Jesus:  “He was never known to laugh, but often to weep”

I don’t think so – especially going by some of his sayings which must have been uttered with a twinkle in his eye

How tragic that his followers are so often rarely associated with laughter and light and life – abundant, happy, fulfilling life.

Doing my rounds as a healthcare chaplains some years ago, when the wards in the Infirmary were being decorated for Christmas, a particular patient said to me that it was all a waste of time.  She complained about the cost of Christmas, all the presents she had to buy for grandchildren, and the effort for very little return.  Further, when she got home, she was more or less going to ignore the whole thing.

I looked above her bed to read her name, half expecting it to be ‘Mrs Scrooge’

We all remember the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge?  What an old misery he was.  A dry, withered, joyless man who responded to his nephew’s wish that he had a Happy Christmas, the best of times in the young man’s opinion, with the immortal words: ‘Bah!  Humbug’

But it is the best of times.  A time to celebrate God’s greatest gift to humankind, Jesus Christ, his Son.

A time to celebrate and a time to rejoice: for God himself  entered our human situation in the person of Jesus.  God incarnate, God in the flesh.

Let us remind ourselves again of St Paul’s words:

  ‘May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord.  I say it again: rejoice!’

the text of the “Letter of Lentulus“:    Lentulus, the Governor of the Jerusalemites to the Roman Senate and People, greetings. There has appeared in our times, and there still lives, a man of great power (virtue), called Jesus Christ. The people call him prophet of truth; his disciples, son of God. He raises the dead, and heals infirmities. He is a man of medium size (statura procerus, mediocris et spectabilis); he has a venerable aspect, and his beholders can both fear and love him. His hair is of the colour of the ripe hazel-nut, straight down to the ears, but below the ears wavy and curled, with a bluish and bright reflection, flowing over his shoulders. It is parted in two on the top of the head, after the pattern of the Nazarenes. His brow is smooth and very cheerful with a face without wrinkle or spot, embellished by a slightly reddish complexion. His nose and mouth are faultless. His beard is abundant, of the colour of his hair, not long, but divided at the chin. His aspect is simple and mature, his eyes are changeable and bright. He is terrible in his reprimands, sweet and amiable in his admonitions, cheerful without loss of gravity. He was never known to laugh, but often to weep. His stature is straight, his hands and arms beautiful to behold. His conversation is grave, infrequent, and modest. He is the most beautiful among the children of men

 

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