Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Five--Surprised By Joy

From the RevGals:

Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No."He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. (John 21:5-7)

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b)

This week I've been watching parents of the young people slain at Virginia Tech trying to make meaning out of the lives of their lost children, and each one seems to begin by focusing on something joyful about that child. It's a gift that most humans have brains wired to respond in that way. For some of us it can be harder to work our way out of dark places, but I believe joy remains the key. It is the spirit of resurrection.

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.

1) Sweetie. When she and I started dating 10 years ago, I was not in a good place emotionally, spiritually, or financially. She was there for me in so many ways--looking back, I'm not surprised in the least, but at the time I was continually surprised at what a healing, joyful presence she was in my life. And she's continued to bring joy to my life ever since.

2) It's not surprising to me that Kiddo is a source of joy...what surprises me is all the ways he finds to bring that joy. Whether it's an unexpected hug, something he says, or something I see him do, he's an amazing fountain of love and joy and life.

3) I'm a hymn-crier. Sometimes, in the middle of a great hymn, everyone's singing and the organ is blasting and I just know God's right there and the goosebumps start on my arms and I get that little catch in my throat, and here come the tears. It's not anything I can predict or cause to happen on my own--it just happens. And when it does, oh, those are beautiful, sweet, refreshing tears of joy and healing and new life.

4) Camp Carol Joy Holling, near Ashland Nebraska. I was a camper there when I was young, and later served as a counselor-in-training, a counselor, and a site manager. I've since come back numerous times for fundraisers, meetings, retreats, and to volunteer. There's something about that place that has healing properties. Maybe it's just the simplicity of God's presence in His outdoor sanctuary. I don't know. What I do know is that whenever I'm out there, I come away spiritually renewed.

5) The weekly text study group. There's a group of mostly pastors and some laypeople that meet every Tuesday to go over the texts for the following Sunday. I started coming to these three and a half years ago, partly as a way to network and keep the area pastors in the loop about the ministry I was doing, which was funded by the area churches, and partly to learn. With the exception of about 6 months when I was working a temp job between church positions, I've been there almost every week. It's been an informal seminary training in and of itself, and I've grown to love it and depend on it as a well of spiritual refreshment to go to. The third Tuesday each month, instead of studying, we have worship with Holy Communion, which gives everyone (except the one person leading) a chance to be a worship participant instead of worrying about the nuts and bolts of leading worship. I'd miss it incredibly if I ever had to stop going.



Songbird said...

I used to be in a clergy study group that included weekly communion that we took turns leading. It was formational, such a gift. Glad you have that in your group, the opportunity to both serve and be served.

jill said...

ooh! I'm a hymn-crier, too. Good mention, and great posting. Thanks!

QuakerPastor said...

I am going to try to start a lectionary study group. I really miss that opportunity here that I had in previous ministry position.
Good play! QP

Iris said...

That must be quite a camp as your the second person to mention it today!

I like your description of your holy tears.

LutheranHusker said...

Iris--yes, it IS quite the place, and it's no surprise to me that RevScott mentioned it too. God's done some amazing things through that camp and its dedicated staff.

Many of my closest friends (including Sweetie and RevScott) are people I met in that place "set apart to grow in Christ."

Hedwyg said...

Oooh... a lovely play, Husker. Thank you!

Sally said...

a group of us at seminary are thinking of forming a group like the one you mentioned- I am even more encouraged to push for this to go ahead now I have read this.

Serena said...

I too have experience a study group like that, and miss it greatly. Totally relate to "holy tears" brought on by music. good post. thanks.

Deb said...

Loved the weekly reading group - what a cool idea... we non-lectionary folks sometimes miss out on a lot!


Susan said...

I'm a hymn-crier, too! I'm glad it's not just me who feels so moved by our great Lutheran music.

And I feel the same way about #4 with you as well. Just yesterday I went to camp to refresh myself from the stresses of the world, and I left feeling like a whole new person. What a blessing.