A Season of Joy
by David Dahl
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . ” (Titus 3:5b-6)
It’s all grace. Everything is a gift. And gifts bring joy! Beginning May 28th, we will embark on a season where we intentionally inject joy into our community. What kind of joy are we aiming for? Real joy. Joy is a permanent sense of wellbeing upheld by God’s grace. It’s permanent, because our sense of wellbeing is not shaken by the challenges that life throws our way.
Being church is all about living in this kind of joy. It all begins by learning to receive and share the grace of God. We might be familiar with the book of Acts. The whole Pentecost event when God’s Spirit moved to pull people from various flavors of Jewish and Roman backgrounds together as one. They formed a new kind of family —people who were truly interested in and about one another. People became curious, because they had not experienced or seen a community of people care for each other so well, and they couldn’t wait to join them.
Part two of that story came as the Apostle Paul sent one of his students, a man named Titus, to the island of Crete. Crete is the fourth largest island of the Mediterranean. It’s directly south of the Aegean Sea. For as exotic as that sounds, it did not make the NY Times list of “The Best Places to Raise Your Children.” In fact, the corruption and laziness of the place became the stuff of popular sayings. Paul states it plainly for Titus. “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true.” (Titus 1:12b-13a).
To look at Crete, most would write it off as a lost cause. But Paul and Titus saw something different. They saw potential. They saw people for whom Christ died, people who were worthy of God’s rescue.
Paul encouraged Titus to get right to work. Show them God’s purpose to save the human race. Teach people to see one another as people made in God’s image. Sternly discipline those who need it. Deal straightforwardly with those wrestling with addiction. Work with those whom you have access to — namely the women, the young men and the slaves. This is a big job. But, after all, how do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. Facing this huge task, Paul reminds Titus not to write anyone off as being beyond God’s help. Paul tells him to be honest with himself. We all begin this life from the same place —as sinners. “At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures . . .” (Titus 3:3). Because of His mercy, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . ” (Titus 3:5b-6).
That’s where the church at Crete started — receiving and sharing the grace of God. We all need to be scrubbed clean. God washes us through the work of the Holy Spirit, correcting us, encouraging us and loving us so much as to say, “You’re a mess, but you are worth saving. See, I give myself for you.” JOY!
Person by person, they became church— this mysterious community that cares about and for each other — a community full of joy.
Receive the grace of God. Share it.
I have experienced God’s amazing grace and the joy it brings from your hands. Your life experiences, your God-given wisdom, your talent, your willingness to spend time around a table, your hard work, your care and thoughtfulness have brought so much joy to so many.
This summer, let’s sharpen our skills in bringing joy to each other —fostering a permanent sense of wellbeing where we know without a doubt that God is good —all the time!
May we all Keep and Live the Faith!
Pr. David G. Dahl
September 02, 2023
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