Where There Is Sadness, Joy
And where there is sadness, joy
I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words of this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. While this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.
I would like to reflect on each line. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog here: https://godwrestler.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/a-personal-look-at-the-st-francis-prayer/
I may even write a book based on this prayer.
The seventh line of this prayer is about bringing joy to sadness or in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson advises us to “scatter joy” and Mark Twain said to “Let your joy be unconfined!” It asks that we don’t let sadness defeat us that we stay open for joy and happiness to enter into our life and to bring more of God into our lives. Psalm 47 says, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Isaiah 12: “Shout, and sing for joy” Jesus speaking in the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 said, “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” The bible is ripe with instances of calling telling us to be of joy, shout joy, and to be not afraid. This life full of things to cause fear and sadness, yet the bible exhorts us to be joyful in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) The seventh line of the St. Francis Prayer is about bring joy and God’s love and grace to a broken, dark world perishing. There will be times in praying this prayer that we need God’s love, faith, hope, joy, and peace in our life, as much if not more than we want to share these qualities of the Kingdom of God with others. God won’t zap us with these attitudes, but will give us moments in which to experience them in our life and the lives around us.
I don’t think that I am alone in preferring joy to sadness. Sometimes there seems no way out of sadness. Sometimes sadness hovers over us weighing us down. The bible encourages us to have joy and to not fear. Jesus tells us that we are to live life to the full. I think this means that our joy should be shared that it is meant to be a communal thing. We may be the most joyous people, but if we are not sharing our joy and guiding others to joy than our joy is meaningless. Joy should be part of community and cause us to reach out to others. Joy should cause us to widen our circle of compassion. We cannot be joyous on our own, only with another person. I think that is what Jesus means when he said, “When two are gathered in his name I am there too.” (Matthew 18:20)