In the Orthodox Church during Passion Week leading up to Pascha we have a service on Thursday evening called Matins of Holy Friday. During this service the priest reads 12 Passion Gospel Readings. Each is from one of the 4 gospels and we walk with Christ, step by step, from His last talk with his disciples all the way until Joseph of Arimathea lays Him in the tomb.
It is during the first reading, in John, while Christ is talking to His disciples that one single sentence suddenly grabbed me.
One sentence in the midst of it all suddenly pulled me and I heard, “and no one will take your joy from you.”
It stole my thoughts and filled my heart with hope!
At this point in my life I had already begun feeling that tug of wanting and needing to find joy and beauty in the world around me. In my world. In me. I had finally had enough of feeling glum, of letting my circumstances or people dictate how I felt.
“and no one will take your joy from you.”
In this passage (specific scripture verse is John 16:22) Jesus is telling His disciples that they will sorrow for a time, “but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.”
I grabbed a pencil and underlined that part of my little Holy Friday Matins book I was following along in and made a mental note to go back.
At that time I didn’t realize That Feeling of joy Christ was talking about was about to envelope me in just 3 days’ time!
No, this wasn’t my first time hearing this scripture. I’ve heard it every Holy Thursday for many, many years (depending how many times I didn’t go to this particular service as a mom of small children). No, this wasn’t going to be my first Paschal Resurrection service. But I think a layer of the onion has been peeled off from my eyes, as I’ve become ready to see deeper into my soul and who I am and who I want to be. So, it is the first time I was probably ready to finally SEE what I have been looking for my whole life.
As I sit in the midst of the difficult moments life throws at us, I once again marvel at this passage. And as I’ve witnessed again Christ hanging on the cross, His decent into hades and His Glorious Resurrection I am reminded of That Feeling I finally was able to actually feel deep in my soul one year ago at Pascha. That moment where I realized that THIS is what I long for and I what I hope to spread to those around me.
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death
And upon those in the tombs
“…and no one will take [this] joy from you!”
Join this Journey to Joy!