Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”
John 5:8 (NRSV)
Migration headlines focus on people being “led forth in peace” to a safer home. However, not all immigrants are motivated by the search for peace. Many “go out in joy” toward opportunity. The joy they embody is not the joy of unfettered glee. It is a joy closer to that felt by the man at the Bethesda pool. When Jesus says, “Stand up, take your mat and walk,” joy was absolutely part of the healed man’s reaction, yet rarely does joy show up on its own.
It is still true that no one would help this man when he was in need. His joy is mixed with loneliness. The life he has become accustomed to changes in a moment. The new life is better, but there will be things to grieve alongside the joy. Then, on his first stroll in 38 years, he gets shamed for carrying his mat on the sabbath. Joy frequently is mixed with other emotions. When sadness, anger, fear, shame, guilt (etc.) twist around our joy, we second-guess the validity of the joy. Yet if we find ourselves moved to go out, the fuel is undoubtedly joy. Joy that is affirmed and championed is strong enough to drag any other emotional baggage we are packing for the journey. This kind of joy empowers people every day to stand up, take up their beds and walk toward a better life.
Action: Spend three minutes affirming your joy. It may be buried deep in fear or shame. Be intentional and give your joy a moment to be acknowledged. How can you be a champion for someone else’s joy?
Prayer: Leading God, the joy in me is rooted in resurrection, so I know it cannot be destroyed. Show me those who need to be reminded and chose me to be a champion of joy in my community. I am ready to stand up, take my mat and walk. Amen.
The Rev. Bethany Peerbolte, or RevBethany as she is known to her 300,000 followers on TikTok, serves as an associate pastor at First Presbyterian in Birmingham, Michigan. If you ever meet her in real life, DO NOT ask her about cults unless you have at least five hours to waste.
This year’s Path of Peace reflections are designed to help participants explore peacemaking efforts addressing some of the major issues of our time. The theme for the 29 days of the 2022 A Season of Peace is Led Forth in Peace: Critical Areas of Engagement for Peacemakers. With these daily reflections, we are invited to reflect upon ways to practice peace by engaging the following critical areas:
- Climate change
- The intersection of poverty and racism