But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.
-Isaiah 65: 18-19
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach. (Thank you, Rev. Elizabeth Bachelder Smith for the invitation into your pulpit). It felt so good! It was where I needed to be, doing what I need to do. I hope that if you are a preacher, you love preaching (almost) every Sunday. I hope that if you extend the hand of Christ in a food, or clothing, or teaching, or singing, or wood chopping, or photocopying, or praying with, or any other kind of ministry, you truly love what you are doing.
I’m not taking about a superficial happy face that grins and bears it. I’m talking about a deep connection with the purpose God has given you as your special gift. Lisbon UMC’s leaders reminded me of this as they described finding their fire delightfully reignited. Their Discovering the Possibilities team is intentionally opening their hearts in spiritual formation and their doors in deeper community engagement. Opening the doors doesn’t only mean inviting people in. It also means inviting church members to venture out in purposeful ways. Have you ever looked at a painting of Jesus knocking at the door and wondered whether he was asking to be let in or whether he was asking us to come out?
False humility can mask the delight we find in the work to which Christ invites us. “Ah, I’m just doing what I otta,” is hardly a delight-full response to someone noticing that we are doing good work. What difference might it make if, when someone notices what we’re up to, we said something like, “it just makes me so happy that God gave me this work.”
The thing about doing God’s work is that the harder it gets, the more the light can shine through us. And to people wondering whether God will ever get them through what they’re going through, the prophet says that God designs us for work that is ultimately full of delight, the hallmark of kin-dom living.
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD-- and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent--its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.
PS Want to know the secret of the Lisbon team’s energizing experience? Each meeting opens with shared prayer, moves into the bible for open listening, shares the wisdom of an author, then asks what does God have for us to do and how shall we go about doing it?
So simple, so transforming, so Wesleyan! Be ye transformed……..
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.