TEARS OF JOY
We usually associate tears with sadness.
Sometimes though, tears come when we have eyes to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
By the lake
My family gathered at Lake Webster last Friday night, and spent most of Saturday and Sunday on the water, grilling, hanging out, and learning the art of competitive ax-throwing from the neighbors (don’t ask).
On Sunday, after a great morning of worship, I packed a bag and headed north to join the family. By that time they had relocated to Koontz Lake near Plymouth, Indiana, where we would celebrate Sharon’s birthday on that coming Monday.
I joined the party late…but was thrilled to be there. The pizza was ordinary, but there was something unspeakably good about hanging out together in the front yard.
A couple people began playing guitars and sang to 2 ½ year old Max and 7-month old Grant. Ella and Olivia were doing their fingernails, and when I gave them a hug Olivia said, “Watch the nails!” After a few minutes, I slipped into the water, off the pier where I had once caught a small mouth bass…near the place where I had learned to sail. I swam out and then leaned back to take it all in.
Tears in the corner
On Monday morning, my 90-year old father-in-law’s house began to fill up — all four of his great-grandchildren were there. There was a hum of voices as folks filled up their plates with food. Grant was held and loved on and passed around. Max played with trucks and invited his Grandpa to make truck sounds. Almost as an afterthought, we realized that all three of our sons and their families were together. Pictures were taken and, I had my first ski run of the season.
In the middle of all of this, I looked over and my 90-year old dad, Bob, was talking to my 90-year old father-in-law, Ray. Ray was smiling and quietly crying. The tears were tears of gladness. The tears were about joy. He apologized for crying even as he observed that it was all so good. Both said, “God has been good to us. God has blessed us.”
I thought that was a beautiful thing.
I thought it was beautiful that Ray has eyes to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
I thought it was beautiful that he didn’t look out over that collection of men and women, children and babies, and take it all for granted. Or, wish it away as he looked forward to the next thing on the calendar.
20/20 vision all the way to the end
Near the end of the book of Deuteronomy, there is a powerful description of the death of Moses. After leading the people out of Egypt and through the 40 years of wilderness wanderings, he will see the Promised Land, but not be allowed to enter Canaan.
Moses, according to Chapter 34 of Deuteronomy, hikes “up from the Moabite plains to Mount Nebo.” The old man looked out over the valley, across the Jordan River, to the city of Jericho.
God tells Moses that this is the land he had been telling him about. Moses, Deuteronomy reports, was 120 years old when he died. “His eyesight wasn’t impaired, and his vigor hadn’t diminished one bit.”
Maybe the writer of the book was telling us that the old man was able to see from Mount Nebo to the Mediterranean Sea to the west, from Ephraim to Naphtali. It could be that we’re being told the veteran leader had eyes like a hawk.
Or, perhaps the writer of the book is letting us know that Moses took none of it for granted. Perhaps we’re being told that Moses saw the extraordinary in the ordinary. He saw the glory and grace of God in the wind blowing up and across the mountain, in the distant thread of greenery lining the Jordan River, in the way the hills to the west turned purple in the gathering dusk, and he heard the glory of God in the voices and footsteps of the men and women around him.
I want to keep seeing all the way to the top of the mountain.
I pray to retain the ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I want to retain the ability to shed tears of gladness at the unexpected and undeserved blessings God has sent our way.
When did you last find yourself crying with gladness?
Here is an invitation to open your eyes to the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Join us this Sunday at 9:30 (Sanctuary) and 11:15 (Buskirk-Chumley) as we hear about “From Shepherd to King.” There will also be a time of celebration as we welcome Pastor Teri Crouse to First Methodist Church as one of our pastors.
1st @ First is designed to help welcome new people. Join us this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Thurston Parlor for an informal conversation about the vision, mission, and life of First Methodist…and a chance for the pastors to get to know you!
Parents of teenagers are invited to join us on Tuesday evening, from 5-6, in Rooms 218/219 to meet our new Director of Youth & Young Adults, the Reverend Kevin Smiegelski. This is a very informal gathering.
Thank you! to everyone who responded SO GENEROUSLY to our “excel” stewardship “burst” in July to close a $100,000 operating budget gap. As of the middle of this past week, we were moving past the $97,000 mark!
Grace and peace,
New Associate Pastor
We’re excited to welcome our new Associate Pastor, the Rev. Teri Crouse, to our First Methodist family. Please take a moment and send her a welcome note. Tell her something about yourself, about our church, and about Bloomington (perhaps even including a gift card to your favorite local store or restaurant). Mail or drop off your cards to our church office at: Rev. Teri Crouse, c/o First Methodist, 219 E 4th St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Attention Parents & Teens!
Don’t stay inside all summer!
View our updated list of Summer Youth Events…
Download the First Methodist Summer Youth Schedule 2017. Print it out. Hang it on the fridge. Then come join the Summer Fun!
This week we’re continuing our sermon series, THE STORY. If you don’t yet have your own copy of THE STORY, you can purchase one from the church office for $10 or order online here. If you’re interested in going deeper, the Adult Companion Guide is also available.