Last Sunday in worship I used the example of playing Peek-a-boo with the children to describe the experience of being surprised by the joy of the Lord. I wish I could have captured the giggling, surprised, attentive, joy-filled faces of our children just then! It continues to give me joy, even as I write this post. If I could have captured it somehow, I would share it with everyone as an experience of the surprising joy of God's grace. I would also like to capture the look of joy on each of your faces in that moment, to give you a tiny glimpse of the joy I imagine God experiences whenever God looks at you. I imagine it to be the joy that we will all experience when God's kingdom/rule/reign/kin-dom is fully realized, when our Christ is seated on the throne of God's grace.
Until that time comes, we have to hold onto the experiences of being surprised by the joy of the Lord because they are the source of our strength. The Holy Spirit will recall these moments of joy and instill in us the hope we have in Christ Jesus to keep shining the light of that joy. Without hope to oppose the powers and principalities that cause terror, grief, sadness, and shock, very much like what we have been seeing on the faces of children who are being separated from their parents even as I write this. I raise this up, because I have seen the joy of the Lord, and I have witnessed it among you. We gather together for worship, because the kin-dom of God is not an individual effort but is at the very heart of the work of God's people. That work is to remember that we are all God's children and to catch glimpses of God who surprises us and longs to see the shining joy of trust reflected in the faces of all people.
As we make our way to our worship here at Hope, I invite you to read these Scripture Lessons, Mark 4:35-41 and 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 to prepare yourself for the proclamation and activation of the Word in worship and praise for this coming Sunday.
As you read this, my family and I are visiting the General Assembly in St. Louis observing the national church at work, seeing old friends, making a few new acquaintances and being surprised by the in-breaking of the kin-dom of God. For those who are traveling, remember to travel safely, enjoy the journey, gather up stories and come home to share them! As a reminder, this summer is another great opportunity to invite family, friends, neighbors and anyone you meet to come worship with you at Hope.
Pastor Chuck Goodman has been pastor at Hope for nearly ten years. He writes each week about what's on his mind, giving readers something to meditate on until and beyond Sunday.