Dr. Scott Black Johnston: Finding Joy

This past Monday, in a televised ceremony held on the front steps of our church, a switch was flipped and the UNICEF snowflake that hangs over Fifth Avenue was lit. To many, the lighting of this huge, sparkling ornament signals the beginning of the holidays here in New York.

As much as I love the snowflake, I have to admit that it doesn't seem possible.

The holidays are here!? Oh my!

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Christmas windows are being unveiled all over midtown. People are multi-tasking like crazed weasels: making travel plans, finishing projects at work, and filling their already-stuffed calendars with parties and gatherings.

The hustle and bustle is upon us. 

As we transition to holiday mode, here at FAPC we will conclude our Fall Sermon Series. All autumn, we have been talking about the Christian faith as if it were a dance - a dance in and with the spirit of God. The final sermon in the series is entitled "Flourish."

It's "Flourish" because that's what you do at the end of a dance: you twirl, you dip your partner, you strike a pose. You flourish!  

So naturally, Sunday's sermon was about joy.

Joy certainly seems like an appropriate subject - a bubbly, happy topic - for us to embrace as we enter the holiday season. We all want to have (or to find) joy at this time of year.

That is why nearly every storefront along Fifth Avenue promises that joy can be purchased within. The message is clear: this chocolate, thisdiamond, this car with a big red bow on it can bring joy to someone you love.

If only it were that simple.

What is joy? Is it a permanent state, or a fleeting feeling? Are some people naturally joyful, while others will never experience true happiness?

Is it really possible to get "joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart?" Where? Down in my heart to stay!

[Taken with permission and adapted from Scott's blog, "Sharp About Your Prayers," Nov. 19, 2011.]