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Psalm 98:

Sing to the Lord a new song,[b] for he has accomplished marvelous deeds. His right hand and his holy arm have made him victorious. 2 The Lord has made known his salvation; he has manifested his righteousness for all the nations to see.[c 3 He has remembered his kindness[d]and his fidelity to the house of Israel. The farthest ends of the earth have witnessed the salvation of our God. 4 Sing joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; raise your voices in songs of praise. 5 Sing praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious singing. 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully to the King, the Lord.

7 [f]Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world[g] and all its inhabitants. 8 Let the rivers clap their hands and the mountains shout for joy. 9 Let them sing before the Lord, who is coming, coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness.

Joy is listed second in the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. So it must be pretty important. But unlike other descriptions of the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, or patience or kindness, we don't think of it as something to cultivate. We're more likely to see it as something that just happens along. Maybe we have a protestant heritage that means we sort of see joy as not really allowed.

But, as Nehemiah points out, "the joy of the Lord is our strength".It gives energy and vitality.

So maybe we should be deliberately cultivating it.

We thought about the fact that there is something about being wiht other people, being in community, that makes joy more accessible somehow. Even if you're just in the same place as other people, it can make things more enjoyable. A full cinema has more atmosphere than an empty one, even if you've gone by yourself.Community seems to matter when it comes to joy

We reflected on the fact that although it might be a good idea to cultivate joy, the instruction to "rejoice in the Lord" is very easily weaponised. We can use it to beat ourselves and other people up, when life is hard and there is real sorrow. So perhaps cultivating joy is about being willing to find and appreciate the good things, the joyous, beautiful things, in the midst of the difficult stuff in life. Not denying the difficult things. Just spending time appreciating the joyful stuff anyway. Where is can be found.

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