God bless all those who are mothers this morning.  God bless all those who have mothered in any way, those who have expressed a tender love for others, a compassion and care that only a mother can.

Today in the Psalm, Epistle and Gospel, the theme is very much of joy.  This is somewhat odd when one considers, in the case of the Gospel anyway, that Jesus is saying these things to the disciples mere hours before He knows He is to be crucified.  How can joy be possible under those circumstances you ask?  Well, joy is different then happiness isn't it?  I think the two are often confused and I think that happiness is more important to folks these days but happiness is not possible in times of crisis, anxiety or pain because it's based on feelings of contentment, satisfaction and security.  Joy on the other hand goes deeper and can be experienced in times of cataclysm and loss.  Joy comes from a faith in something that can be trusted, it is the peace that can only come when certainty is given.

In today's gospel reading Jesus is preparing His disciples for the hard times of anxiety and uncertainty that lay ahead;

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

The complete joy that will abide in the disciples, and hopefully in us, long after the shock and horror and pain of Jesus crucifixion is over is rooted not in something they have achieved for their own satisfaction and contentment, it isn't even the result of something they have done themselves, it is the result of the truth that they have not chosen the Messiah but rather that the Messiah has chosen them because they are chosen and beloved of God;

John 15:16 "you did not choose me but I chose you..." is, to mind mind, after Ephesians' 4:8 (look it up!) the most important verse in the Greek text.

God chooses us!! If the covenant was based on us choosing God what possible end could that have but our own failure followed by a spiral into despair  The miracle here, the cause for real, true, deep and abiding JOY is that God chooses us and appoints us to do great things.  Beyond happiness and even hope this must surely be the source of all joy