A GUILTLESS PLEASURE
Can I talk with you?
“Can I talk with you?” the young woman said to me immediately after worship. She asked about setting up an appointment saying, “Can I talk with you today or Monday?” I’m certain my eyebrows went up with concern because often when people need to talk “right now” it has to do with a problem or life crisis.
Surprised by good news
When we met in my office she didn’t want to tell me about a life crisis, or ask for pastoral support or life coaching but wanted to share good news. She wanted to tell me about good things happening in her life. She wanted to share gladness about new vocational opportunities. She commented that she saw God actively moving her in new directions; she was beaming and glad.
Our conversation was all about giving thanks…a time of celebration.
Our conversation was all about recognizing that God surprises us with more good than we could have ever expected.
Joy and happiness are more than okay
A preaching professor at Duke would tell us that a little “ain’t it awful” goes a long way. These days there seems to be crises, large and small, in nearly every direction. It is easy for a preacher—or any of us— to spend a lot of energy talking about the “ain’t it awful.”
However, today’s troubling headlines should never keep us from seeing the good. The truth is, sometimes wonderful people share good with me and then seem apologetic about being happy. When others are struggling with life, they feel guilty about being happy.
Joy and happiness are more than okay!
Maybe, when we gather for worship or meet friends over coffee, we should feel free to share our good news. We shouldn’t feel guilty about the good that is happening in our lives or work to hide our happiness.
Nehemiah reminds us that joy in life; in the goodness of God is the strength of his life. In Philippians 4:7, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord, always; again, I will say, rejoice.” The psalmist (16:11) observes, “In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 118:1 turns us in the direction of thanksgiving: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord.”
In a familiar passage, Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for laughing and a time for dancing.
So we don’t have to feel guilty for being happy, or having good news to share, or laughing, and being filled with joy at the goodness and presence of God.
An end of the day list
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is a remarkable leader and business leader and a strong advocate for the empowerment of women. Sheryl lost her husband suddenly several years ago to a heart attack while the family was on vacation in Mexico. Sheryl says she went through a long fog of grief.
As she began to move beyond the fog with the help of friends and God, she experienced moments of happiness. Sheryl says she would feel guilty for feeling happy. A friend said to her, “Your husband wanted more than anything for you and the kids to be happy. Don’t deny yourself and the children that.”
Sheryl says at the end of each day it’s important to make a list of three moments when you were happy. Look back at the day and list the three moments for which you can be grateful…(because of something big or small).
So, contrary to what some may assume, feeling guilty about being happy isn’t required of all those who follow Jesus. Having good news, being happy, stopping to laugh and dance is more than okay. Jesus, after all, tells his disciples in the Gospel of John that he has come into the world so that our joy might be full.
What are the three things you would write down today?
What reasons do you have for being glad…giving thanks?
You don’t have to feel guilty for having good news to share!
Join us this Sunday as we continue “The Story” and look at how God keeps speaking even in tough times. As we do that, we’ll talk about Florida condominiums, a retired engineer named Gus, a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies, and a prophet named Isaiah.
We are excited by our partnership with MCUM as we begin the new ministry outreach of Compass Early Learning Center.
Our Sunday school ministry kicks in this Sunday at 9:45. Details are in the new Sunday Companion which you will receive from an usher as you enter the Sanctuary. Middle School and Senior High students should leave service for Sunday school after the Passing of the Peace.
Let us welcome, along with Pastor Teri Crouse, new staff members:
- Shana Dublan – Director of Children & Family Ministries
- Pastor Kevin Smigielski – Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries
- Jay Cherry – Interim Director of Business Operations
The all church picnic will be September 10th, starting with a combined service at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater beginning at 10:00 am. Don’t Miss It! The Sunday following the picnic, September 17th, we will return to our fall worship schedule.
A brief report about the work of an emergency preparedness task force can be found at www.fumcb.org/safety.
Grace and peace,