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by Phil Ware
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 Mothers Day or Fathers 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 dont have. Ditto for those who have had horrible experiences with their own moms or dads. In addition, there are those who have wanted and prayed and waited to be moms 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 done the celebration, or issue all sorts of exception statements so the wounded dont 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 honor those to whom honor is due. In our petty and nit-picky world, people seldom get the affirmation and praise they deserve. Standing up and honoring those who deserve must be done it is not an option for godly people. God wants us to honor those to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:7)
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 Gods 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!
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
Author: Phil Ware
Publication Date: June 10, 2002
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