Happy New Year! It made me wonder as to how many times over the years, I have ritually exhorted this salutation to the incoming new year, offering it as a benevolent bequest of hope for all loved ones, friends and even strangers for something better than was had in the year passing. I also then realised that I have never actually followed up as to whether my wish had come true for the countless to whom I had offered it, but one thing is for certain, like many others I will be saying it again and again as one expiring year rolls into one anew, simply because it is the customary thing to do, so why do it? Well, on face value it’s a nice and often polite thing to do but it seems to me that as human beings, we do it because we each live with a constant need, some deep-rooted primal desire, to find real happiness and then having done so to simply remain being happy. The nature of what true happiness actually is, remains of course extremely subjective, with each and every one of us having a different measure for what it is that has the ability to make us feel joyfully content.
If and when someone does find the happiness they seek, then the ensuing questions that are likely to be considered would be firstly as to its measure and then importantly as to how long will it last? Is it really possible for anyone to be perpetually pleased with their lot? The famed psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Karl Jung clearly didn’t think so as he wrote:
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness because the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
It would appear then that to know one emotion requires experiencing the other and indicates a universal need for balance in all things that we humans can claim to know and understand about ourselves, which is important to remember when comparing our fortunes and misfortunes with those of others, trying to work out whose grass is greener as we sometimes find ourselves doing, because clearly everyone experiences a measure of both light and dark within life, regardless. I would also suggest that when someone experiences the light of happiness, then life should feel relatively uplifted and easy to deal with and therefore the real challenge behind the quest for continued happiness, perhaps lies in having a plan of what to do when that equalising measure of darkness, comes along in one of its many disguises.
John tells us in his Gospel reading for today that the plan we should seek has been with us since before creation, before time itself, he reminds us that before whatever you could imagine ever existed, there was God and God is love. God’s very nature is a love that flows out and returns, that gives and receives, that multiplies and unites. God is generosity and delight so overflowing that it wishes to share its perfect happiness with others. Our first understanding of His sharing was creation itself and since then everything we may know about the existence of everything, is in fact the work of God’s love and His desire to share it with us.
Whilst nobody has seen God, we can claim to know Him because He came to us through the Son and it is Christ the Son that physically brings God into our world, so that we can gaze upon Him and begin to understand the happiness we can all find if we too set out to both love and share. Christ the Son is the Word, and the Word was in the beginning and He is God. We Christians are called by God’s Holy Spirit to focus on the Word and in doing so will hear the Son call to us “Come and enjoy the love of God, as I do. Come and express the generosity of God, as I do. Come and display the glory of God, as I do. Come and be children of God, resembling Him in every way. Come and be me.”
So, we have a plan, but it does require an unwavering focus upon God, achieved through the Son and guided by the Spirit, something that the human condition has a knack of always getting in the way of. We are called children of God and like all children we can so easily be distracted, especially by other fleeting desires that we feel could make us happy in a far easier way. We lose focus, important things now become blurred, we feel lost and like lost children we run around in a panic trying to find the next fix that will make us feel secure again. Stand still, John suggests, and look to the Son, for you will never find God if you look anywhere else and gradually not only will you see God again, but you and others will see the Son within yourself more and more, for we are made in His image to share in both God’s love and delight, to love and share with one another, that is our purpose, that is the plan.
Heavenly Father thank you for your ceaseless gift of love
seen in the face of your Son
heard in the sound of His word
found in the joy that it brings
All glory, praise and honour to you