Your Joy is My Joy
By Rev. Keith Turman | 2022-10-22 | 3 min read
My son Ross, aching to be in the great outdoors, lured my dad and me into the forest. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and our calendars were completely clear, so none of us seemed to mind the long line of cars and motorcycles moving slowly along the Blue Ridge Parkway. By the time we got to the tiny dirt parking lot on Ox Creek Road, it was no surprise that cars from just about every state in the country were parked along the road. The Mountains to Sea trail leading up to Rattlesnake Lodge was jammed with people just like us. We were enamored by the colors and the long-range views. We paused to discuss tree varieties, rock formations, and a particular kind of fungus that feasts on the roots of oak trees. We were lost in wonder and joy. When we reached the ruins of Rattlesnake Lodge, a hiker from Asheville, very familiar with its maze of trails, explained in detail the best way for us to go. In the course of that brief conversation, we noticed in her a bitterness toward all of the “peepers and their dogs” who were overcrowding her trail. On the way back down, as the multitude of people (and their dogs) passed us coming and going, her words of resentment kept ringing in my ears—and I felt sad for her. Because each person we passed—each family, each group of friends, each bridal party, each trail runner, each invader of my mountains—they all seemed overwhelmed with joy. And the dogs, of course, were in doggie heaven. The experience was a gift for me—a not-so-subtle reminder that when we loosen the grip on our stuff and on our attitudes—we all come alive with beauty. It’s a stewardship thing: Your joy is my joy.
Our fall stewardship season comes at a time when we feel a heightened sense of curiosity about what it means to be a United Methodist. Our worship series—Credo: What United Methodists Believe and Practice—is designed to help us wrestle with the core convictions of our Christian faith, with special emphasis on how we live out that faith in the Wesleyan tradition. When we gather for worship on Sunday mornings, we often recite the ancient and modern creeds. Credo, another word for creed, is a guiding belief or principle. It matters what we believe, because it matters what we do. An important question for us to ask ourselves: Do the creeds that pass through our lips Sunday after Sunday produce in us a living faith that is evident on any random Tuesday? Is our faith alive? Is it a faith that moves things—that changes things—that brings complete and utter joy.
One of my favorite praise songs simply sings Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is in your midst; the Lord of lords who saves; He will rejoice over you with joy; He will renew you in his love, he will rejoice over you, with shouts of joy, with shouts of joy, with shouts of joy.”
It’s as if God says to us, “Your joy is my joy.” It’s a stewardship creed—a creed that compels us to love deeply and live generously. Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” -John 15:10-11