“My brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy.” (James 1:2 NRSV)
Reading these words from James can easily make us say, “what?” At first glance, one might think that God wants us to suffer, but that’s not the case. If we read the words that surround this piece of scripture we can come to understand that when we face trials (difficulty) it is then that we can learn to persevere and trust in God’s goodness.
In my book, I have a chapter titled “Simple Joys.” I’ve been thinking a lot about this as our past few months have felt much like trial after trial after trial. What do ‘simple joys’ have to do with the words from James? My perspective is, when we are able to find joy in the simple things; a cup of ice, chirping birds, a favorite toy, popsicles, soft fabric, sunsets (I could go on, but won’t), it is easier to find peace and joy! Joy is similar to the night-light or candle which brings great light to a dark place even though it is extremely small. Similarly, when a trial is great, it doesn’t take much to immerse or flood the situation with pure joy!
We live in a world that is filled with difficulties and trials. If we focus on the trial itself or how miserable we are…it’s going to be even more difficult to overcome. So consider today, “Where do you find joy? What are your simple things?” Take time to savor these gifts that God has given and witness the light overcoming the darkness.
In His Joy,
“You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?” (Corinthians 3:16)
In the life of the church, we’ve just celebrated the Holy Spirit. Pentecost; the coming of the Spirit that fills the people of God! Giving God’s people gifts to use as they spread God’s word to all the world.
I too, like you, ache to be together, in one place, for worship. I am not technologically savvy and quite frankly as an extrovert I find it extremely difficult to preach with any sense of emotion to a camera/cell phone and an empty room. I feel silly reading your parts as well as my own and as a musician, not being able to sing aloud (other than in my own home or car) causes great pain to my spirit. BUT…I remember we are doing these things because God called us to care for one another. Even when that means worshipping in new, sometimes VERY NEW, ways.
I’ve heard some folks say, it’s not worship if we aren’t in our sanctuary. Well, let’s ponder that. As we just learned from the creation story, ALL, that God created was good. I believe, we can worship God from anywhere. I suppose I learned this at a very young age.
Growing up, my family camped (tent, trailer, and motorhome) and we certainly saw God in nature. I recall every time we “hit the road” we said a prayer for our journey; for safety and for us to see God in God’s amazingly beautiful world. Every place we’d find ourselves, we found very sacred space. I also spent many Sunday’s lying in a hospital bed. There too, I found beauty in what God provided; healing, compassionate people, laughter, time to rest, and medication to provide relief and healing.
Perhaps you find God in different ways too. Singing in the kitchen as you prepare your family’s meals. Or maybe as you sit and worship on Sunday mornings in your fuzzy slippers with your dog upon your lap. Perhaps when you drive to and from doctor appointments and encounter the healing presence of God in others and that which you see. The opportunities are endless.
You’ve heard for weeks now, “The church is NOT closed! We’ve just suspended our in-person gatherings for the safety of ALL people.” Read again the verse from I Corinthians, “You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?” WE are God’s church. The people of God are God’s church. When our hearts and lives are focused on God and God’s desire, that is sacred space.
So the next time your heart aches for the sacred space of the sanctuary, remember, “You, the body of Christ, are sacred. Where your feet travel, your voice speaks and your hands serve…that indeed is sacred!
Filled with God’s Spirit,
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or earth beneath or in the waters below.” (Exodus 20:4)
Perhaps you, like me, have sought God’s infinite presence especially these past 2 weeks. While our country has been fighting a battle called the coronavirus, the battle of authority, power, dominance, and equality has shown itself in very unjust and violent ways.
In the very beginning, God made it clear. God alone has power, dominion, and authority! God made ALL people in God’s image. One of our scripture readings tomorrow, tells the creation story. At the end of each day…God says “and it was good”. God created humankind to love God and each other and it was good!
Behavior that insists on its own way or puts another person down (physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually), also puts God down! This is why confession AND forgiveness is so important to the Christian walk of life. If we are honest with God, ourselves, and others we will acknowledge that we fight this battle in some way…every…single…day!
Our thoughts, words, and deeds are not always in sync with God’s desire. Although we’d like to fool ourselves and think that’s not the case. It is times like these, that we’ve made something or someone other than God Almighty, a god to us. Making that person or thing more important than our Living God.
When we pause, admit our faults, and receive God’s gift of forgiveness, we can go forward in hope for a new tomorrow. A tomorrow that is filled with equality, kindness, justice, and compassion. Each encompassing the intent of why God created us in the first place. It is my hope that at the end of the day, can we join God is saying…” it was good". The things I thought, the words I said and the things I did reflected God’s desire…and it was good!”
So, dear friends, as we continue to walk through troubled waters of many kinds, remember…God is with us, to the end of the age!
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22
We now find ourselves in the season of the church we call Pentecost. It’s a long season and will last until the end of October. Our paraments change from the white of Easter to green. When you think of the color green you likely think of grass, trees, flowers. Things of life and growth! That’s exactly what the season of Pentecost is all about. It is a time for us, as God’s Children, to learn and grow in the faith. A time to dig deeper into God’s Word and listen for God’s still small voice.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fills God’s people. The Spirit gives gifts, individual gifts, and resources to help each of us spread God’s word throughout this world.
May this time of learning and faith development, open wide the opportunity to discover the gifts God has given specifically to you…gifts to share God’s Word…God’s love…God’s light with those you encounter each and every day.
Blaze…its time for us to set the world on fire with God’s love!