The Lord had made them joyful. Ezra 6:22  

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20  

The full verse 22 in Ezra 6 gives us a little more background as to what the people were joyful about. “With joy they celebrated the festival of unleavened bread seven days; for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel. “  

We are living in a time where it is a bit hard to be joyful. The COVID-19 pandemic continues and in many areas is getting worse. We hear about new variants of the virus, about younger people getting more. infections. Hospitals in some places, like Ontario and India and Uruguay are again overwhelmed. There is yet another killing of a Black man after a routine traffic stop. Another shooting at a school. Parents not sure about sending kids to school or continuing distance learning.  

In the account from Ezra, the people of Israel are in exile in the sixth year of King Darrisha has ordered a search of records. He finds and he reads what Cyrus wrote about getting the temple rebuilt. “Let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered. . . . Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury.” (Ezra 6:3) So Darius orders this to be done. There are lots of supplies for use in the rebuild and also return of the gold and silver vessels that were in the temple. With all this support the elders of Israel get the temple rebuilt and rejoice and celebrate a joyful 7 days of Passover.  

Passover celebrations were just before Easter this year and this week Ramadan began. All three religions have times of joy, of celebration for what God has done. Passover as God spared the Israelite children and led them out of bondage in Egypt, Ramadan is a time of fasting and celebrations to mark the giving of the first chapters of the Quran.  Of course Easter is when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the beginning of Christianity. Celebrations for the way God has entered our lives, been with us and gotten us from times of sorrow and fear to times of joy. Celebrating His guidance in our lives.   

In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 people to go ahead of Him. In verse 20 the 72 have just returned and are celebrating how they were able to have power over demons. Jesus reminds them that they are not to rejoice in their power, but in following the will of God who has the power. They were probably a little anxious about doing this task, but were able to do it as God gave them the ability. We too can depend on God to be there and help us when we are anxious, when we are sad, when it looks like we might never feel joy again. God’s Holy Spirit has been here right beside us all along and He intends for us to have joy in our lives.  

Almighty God we thank you for your guidance and bringing us from fear and sorrow to joy. When we sorrow here on earth, help us to hear your word declaring that mourning will turn to joy. Continue to guide us Good Shepherd, as we celebrate your presence with us. In your Spirit we rejoice with the whole community of believers. In Jesus’ name, Amen  

Chris Gabel