The Joy of the Kingdom

My dear husband, sent me an email to share with me an amazing find from Fr. Alexander Schmemann. He knew I would be thrilled to read this.

The joy of the Kingdom: it always worries me that, in the multi-volume systems of dogmatic theology that we have inherited, almost every term is explained and discussed except the one word with which the Christian Gospel opens and closes. “For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10) – so the Gospel begins, with the message of the angels. “And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52) – so the Gospel ends. There is in fact no theological definition of joy. For we cannot define that sense of joy which no one can take away from us, and at this point all definitions are silent. Yet only if this experience of the joy of the Kingdom in all its fullness is again placed at the centre of theology, does it become possible for theology to deal once more with creation in its true cosmic dimensions, with the historic reality of the fight between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the prince of this world, and finally with redemption as the plenitude, the victory and the presence of God, who becomes all in all things.

What is needed is not more liturgical piety. On the contrary, one of the greatest enemies of the Liturgy is liturgical piety. The Liturgy is not to be treated as an aesthetic experience or a therapeutic exercise. Its unique function is to reveal to us the Kingdom of God. This is what we commemorate eternally. The remembrance, that anamnesis of the Kingdom, is the source of everything else in the Church. It is this that theology strives to bring to the world. And it comes even to a “post-Christian” world as the gift of healing, of redemption and of joy.

An excerpt from Father Alexander Schmemann’s
lecture “Liturgy and Eschatology,”
delivered at Oxford on May 25, 1982.

Joy!

We cannot define it. But yet, as Fr. Schmemann says, “only if this experience of the joy of the Kingdom in all its fullness is again placed at the centre of theology, does it become possible for theology to deal once more with creation…”

We must work to define it in our own lives so that it can be placed at the center of our own faith. That joy “which no one can take away from you.”

Find it. Remember it. Hold onto it. In the depths of your being.

The aim of my journey to joy is just that.

Won’t you join me?

4 thoughts on “The Joy of the Kingdom

  1. Maria Magdalena

    The picture created in my mind after reading this is one where we are celebrating the Liturgy and the roof of the building is suddenly missing and all we see is heaven here among us, not the sky far above but a golden infused blueness that is all intermingled with us and populated by angels and saints. To perceive that kindles so much joy my heart might just burst!

    Like

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