Posts Tagged joy

I AM A REBOUNDER (From grief to joy) by Rev. Paul Stouffer*

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David, the Psalmist said: “For my life is spent with sorrow.” Psalm 31:10

Both he and I needed a new Holy Spirit tomorrow.

The dictionary says that to rebound means to spring back from the force of impact.

I am writing my family and friends to inform them that this is not a play-act.

I have great pleasure in announcing on the second anniversary of the passing of my beloved,

I am now a believer, rebounder, and I am rebounding by the goodness of God; all of us awaiting our reunion in Heaven above.

August 16, 2016

Paul Stouffer

*Paul and I met at Mars Hill College as undergraduates. We have been friends for all of these years. He and his wife, Peggy, spent years as missionaries.

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The Unexpected – The Daily Cup – St Alban’s Church

 
By Anonymous on Aug 04, 2016 11:38 am

Last Friday night, I received a call that none of us want to get. An ambulance driver was calling me to tell me that my friend and neighbor had been in a very serious car accident. They suggested I come to the hospital. The accident could easily have been a fatal one for her.

As I drove to the hospital to be with her, I thought how precious, and yet how fragile, our lives are. And how unexpected events can end our lives as we know them. Events like car accidents, unanticipated and life-threatening illnesses, and wars that destroy people’s lives as they knew them; all these events can alter our lives and the lives of those around us.   My heart ached for my friend, but I also rejoiced in her survival, just as my heart went out to the refugees who shared their story with us on Sunday.

My friend today told me that she feels more alive now that she has in a very long time. She is grateful for the people in her life that that bring her joy. She’s focusing now on a “new normal” that is less focused on day to day worries and tasks–and more focused the people around her and on the positive aspects of her life that light up her life and the lives of those around her.

We heard on Sunday about the devastations of war that leave countries, cultures, and human lives changed forever. But we also heard the optimism of survival and intentionally going forward with courage and making new beginnings. In the refugee story and my friend’s story, I hear gratefulness for life and for communities of kindness and sharing.

One of my favorite books and a source for daily prayers is Celtic Benedictions by J. Philip Newell. The Thursday prayers include the following:

The vitality of God be mine this day

the vitality of the God of life.

The passion of Christ be mine this day

the passion of the Christ of love.

The wakefulness of the Spirit be mine this day

the wakefulness of the Spirit of justice.

The vitality and passion and wakefulness of God be mine

that I may be fully alive this day

the vitality and passion and wakefulness of

that I may be fully alive.

That we all may be fully alive to love and to life.    Que así sea.  (That it might be so.)

 

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Spread Joy in this Season of Joy

This year during this season of joy, we are confronted as never before with the savage reality of terrorism. This reality has caused many to desert their basic beliefs in the goodness of people and freedom of religion. Some would cover the Statue of Liberty with a dark veil. Others would burn The Constitution in order to enjoy a false sense of security. Our security rests in our faith and in the great principles that have made us the envy of the world. Terrorism is by no means the only concerns that darkens the season for many people.

During this hectic holiday season many people are concerned and embarrassed that they cannot match their generosity of the past again this year. There are many people out of work and those that are working are often helping those who aren’t. There is a lot of anxiety in the land.

This year calls for an extra measure of consideration, patience and prayer. We should be careful about depicting those who are out of work as lazy or as just wanting a handout. There is a small number that fit that category, but no more than usual.  There are always those who cheat, but does that excuse my bad behavior? Many among us have lost family members and friends and are still grieving.

Our attitude needs to be one of graciousness and thankfulness. For many of us it is much harder to be a generous receiver rather than a generous giver. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude. Those of us who live in this great land are blessed beyond measure. Our leaders are men and women of great ability, great courage, and a love of country.

It is easy for nerves to become frayed and attitudes to become judgmental. Resist the temptation. Let’s make it a joyous time for everyone. Make an extra effort to be upbeat and uplifting. Let the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas fill the air. Say Something Nice to every person you meet. Try to lift the spirits of those around you. Hadn’t you rather be remembered for what you scattered than for what you gathered? Remember love is a verb.

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You Mean There’s More – Dr. Thomas McKibbens

YOU MEAN THERE’S MORE?[1]

John 16: 12-24

A sermon by Thomas R. McKibbens

May 26, 2013

 

I still have many things to say to you, said Jesus to his disciples.  After all that he had said, all that he had done, and all that he was about to do, the disciples must have been thinking, “You mean there’s more!”  Yes, he seemed to be saying, there is more, much more.  And it would evolve over the centuries until the “more” came right down to us in Worcester, MA on the 26th day of May, 2013.

The message of Jesus is not stuck in the past; there is more to his story.  He could surely stand before us in this post-modern time and say, I still have many things to say to you.

I

            Among the first things I believe he would say to us on this Memorial Day weekend is this:  take courage!  Take courage, FBC Worcester!  We have been blessed beyond measure.  We have been filled with the living spirit of Christ, and we gather on Sundays to worship the God who knows our every weakness, yet loves us still.  Take courage!

Ethicists have often spoken of different types of courage.  There is, of course, physical courage, the courage of those who face fear and the threat of pain and death.  This type of courage is the virtue of a soldier entering battle, a courage that even the most ardent pacifist recognizes and honors.  This is the courage we remember this weekend.

Then there is a form of courage we call moral courage, which is the courage to stand for what is morally right in spite of personal consequences.  This is the courage of a Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus.  It is the courage of many people in this very room who face life’s challenges with an equanimity that defies understanding.

Then there is a third form of courage which the theologian Paul Tillich called “The Courage to Be.”  It is the form of courage required to go on living in the face of inevitable death.  It is the courage to live meaningfully even if you have suffered a moral failure of judgment.  Suppose you have harmed or brought injury to another.  You have betrayed your best and true self, and the illusion of your perfection lies in ruins at your feet.  It takes courage to go on in the face of private guilt or public shame.

But I suggest this morning a fourth kind of courage:  the courage to live joyfully in spite of heartache, to live thankfully when great challenges are still before us, to live with kindness when rudeness is all around us, to live thoughtfully in a superficial world, and to live graciously in a rude and harsh world.  This is courageous, counter-cultural, and Christ-like.  And it is precisely what we are called upon to do and to be in our day. 

            I still have many things to say to you, said Jesus, and I am convinced that one of those things is to take courage.

II

            But along with his call to take courage, I believe that Christ is calling us to ENcourage.  It is never a wrong time to do the right thing, and a little encouragement can be a powerful thing.  We are surrounded by heroes and heroines, people who live with courage and good cheer while enduring loneliness or rebuilding a life or fighting addiction or embarrassment or pain.  They don’t spend their time cursing their calamity or complaining or moping.  They live their lives with amazing good cheer and humility.

I can’t help but think of one of America’s great novelists, Reynolds Price.  In the spring of 1984, Price was at the height of his career as a writer and professor at Duke University.  He reported difficulty walking and underwent testing at Duke Hospital.  What they found was a pencil-thick and cancerous tumor that was ten inches long and intricately braided in the core of his spinal cord.  Surgery managed to remove the tumor, but he became a paraplegic and required a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  He lived with what he called “colossal, incessant pain,” but he also wrote in his memoir the following:  “I’d have to say that, despite an enjoyable fifty-year start, these recent years since full catastrophe have gone still better.  They’ve brought more in and sent more out—more love and care, more knowledge and patience, more work in less time.”[2]  He would look at the healthy-bodied who loomed around him and call them “temporarily abled.”

If you are among the “temporarily abled,” one of the most important things to do is to offer a word of encouragement.  It can make a world of difference to the many people who have tied a knot in their rope and are hanging on for dear life.

I still have many things to say to you, said Jesus.  And among those things is his call to encourage others.

III

            It is impossible for me to know where these words find you.  Perhaps you suffer with a boss that only parents could love (and they would be sorely tested!), or perhaps you have a body that is piece by piece falling apart, or a family responsibility that is a long and exhausting ordeal.  Or maybe you have the job from hell, or no job at all.

Whenever we have national crises like the Newtowne tragedy or the marathon bombings or the Oklahoma tornado, we always see great acts of courage and kindness from strangers.  And always, someone asks, “Why can’t this kind of caring and sensitivity happen all the time, and not just in a crisis?”

In answer to that question, we can truthfully say that this kind of caring and sensitivity does happen, in small and unnoticed ways—it happens all the time in church, in this church, in our time.  That’s one reason church is so important.  When you get exasperated or frustrated over a personality or predicament in church, remind yourself that such acts of kindness happen all the time here.

IV

An inscription on the parish church in Northampton, England, says, “In the year 1654, when throughout England all things sacred were either profaned or neglected, this church was built by Sir Robert Shirley, whose special praise it is to have done the best of things in the worst of times, and to have hoped them in the most calamitous.”

What if you were to insert your name in that inscription?  What if you were to call out your own name and follow it with these words, “…whose special praise it was to have done the best of things in the worst of times, and to have hoped them in the most calamitous.”

If you can do that today, you will have shown the most beautiful kind of courage:  the courage to be faithful, the cou



[1] ©Thomas R. McKibbens, May 26, 2013.

[2] Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life (New York:  Scribner’s, 1995).

Dr. McKibbens is a friend. He was the speaker for the 325th. anniversary celebration of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina and for the John Hamrick Lectureship.

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