12 December 2018
Celebrating the Good things
How do we celebrate the good things when people are hurting. We need to celebrate, God calls us to celebrate the life that we are given especially when we have come to that place after a long or hard time of waiting and also we are asked to rejoice with one another, it is part of loving one another.. Yet so often we end up not mentioning our blessings because we are aware that others are grieving. Romans 12: 14 says to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I think maybe we need to think about what that is saying about our sharing our joys as well as our fears with each other. And what are we doing as a community if we do not share our blessings and even if we are hurting surely we can still rejoice that others are rejoicing and by that be encouraged ourselves..
As I was thinking about Mother’s day, a time fraught with such considerations I found the following article by Phil Ware , a minister in the Church of Christ in Texas which expressed some thoughts on the matter . He writes…
“ Have you noticed how hard it is to have a simple joyful event anymore?
Something inside wants me to blame it on some external factor like political correctness run amuck. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We live in a fallen world of complicated joy.
Special times like Mother's Day or Father's Day remind me of this sad reality. While I enjoy preaching a "happy little sermon" about moms or dads, the complicated reality of our broken world jumps up and trips me. There are those moms or dads who have been abandoned or abused by their spouses and the last thing they want to do is give thanks or hear nice things about something and someone they don't have. Ditto for those who have had horrible experiences with their own mums or dads. In addition, there are those who have wanted and prayed and waited to be mums and dads without success and with deep wounds. Suddenly, what seems so simple and profoundly important jumps up has the joy stolen from its moment. Our concern for the wounded often leads us to forego the rejoicing, tone down the celebration, or issue all sorts of exception statements so the wounded don't get further injured. Meanwhile, those who have reason for joy have a lot of it siphoned out of the moment.
As Christian communities, however, I believe our churches need times of unabashed joy. Yes, there are those in pain who have been victimized by bad marriages or bad parents. Yes, there are those who ache to have children of their own and who find what is missing hurtful on these kinds of days. But, I believe we truly NEED to celebrate these kinds of moments without apology. Let me share a few reasons why.
First, we need to honour those to whom honour is due. In our petty and nit-picky world, people seldom get the affirmation and praise they deserve. Standing up and honouring those who deserve must be done -- it is not an option for godly people. God wants us to honour those to whom honour is due. (Romans 13:7)
Second, our children need to know that in the troubled world in which they often find themselves, there are moments of joy to cherish and to anticipate. How do they know what "normal" should be, or what goal to set for their own lives if all they hear about are the exceptions and the injuries? Let's teach them to be kind and compassion as well as to think on lovely things and to reach for them in their own lives. (Philippians 4:4-9)
Third, so often in caring Christian communities, our focus is on the broken, the wounded, the left out, and the injured. This is not only appropriate; it is righteous in the truest definition of that biblically rich term. We must be communities of care and compassion. We also must maintain a healthy and holy balance. Thanks for our blessings, praise for the greatness and graciousness of our loving God, and appreciation for his response to our pleas for help and healing should also be a part of our worship. A compassionate community will lose its compassion if it forgets the joy that inspired it. We must rejoice with those who rejoice in addition to weeping with those who weep. (Romans 12:15) The broken need to share the blessing of gratitude with those who rejoice. This is not just encouragement for those rejoicing, but it also helps the broken refocus on other things than their own brokenness and offers the promise of their own brighter tomorrow.
Birthday parties are special because a group of friends come to rejoice at the blessings of someone else. Much is the same in our celebrations of complicated joy at church. We will never assemble with unfettered joy on this side of heaven. But, if we will allow ourselves, we can anticipate that unfettered joy in moments of celebration where the broken, injured, and wounded share in the joy of the moment with those who are not. While it may be a bit complicated by our fallen and broken world, our time together as God's family must be a time to anticipate the joy that awaits us when our Father brings us home! Even though it may be complicated, rejoice!”
May we be a people who rejoice and celebrate for God is good.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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