Surprising Joy

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If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  (Philippians 2:1-2)

A couple of weeks ago I had a wedding down in Wilmington DE.  It was a Friday wedding so I drove down for the rehearsal on Thursday, and the groom’s family was kind enough to put me up in the hotel in which the wedding was occurring, so I could stay overnight and save an extra commute back and forth.  I arrived, checked into the hotel and drove over to the parking garage and parked my car.  It was a commuter garage, evidently, so there were a couple of signs indicating that if I parked below the 4th level, I would be towed.  So I parked on the 4th level.  I got back to the hotel, led the rehearsal, had dinner with the family and came back to my room to do some computer work in my room.  On Friday, I had to check out by noon, and decided to drive to a Starbucks and pay for my WiFi with some Danishes and coffee.  As I got to the garage and walked up to the 4th level, I was stunned to see that my car was gone.  I walked through the 5th and 6th levels along with the 3rd and 2nd levels … but no car.  A flood of images poured through my head from, the most modest problem of my suit jacket being in the car, to my larger problem of where exactly the car was, and how I would get there to release it.  I checked at the booth and asked for the address of where the tow yard was.  It wasn’t a walkable distance.  Now I’m not much for panicking, but I will admit to being pretty anxious.  I went to the closest deli I could find and got a cup of coffee to settle down and think through my options.

It took a half hour to collect my thoughts and then I came back to the garage to grill the parking attendant a little more.  As I returned from the deli and got ready to cross the street to the garage, I had a vantage point that I didn’t have coming from the hotel, and suddenly realized that there were actually two parking garages sitting side by side, run by different companies and separated by a cinderblock wall.  You can guess the story from here … the car was right where I left it in the other garage.  I had an experience of grace, that I will admit was pretty potent.  The world suddenly looked a whole lot better, there was a spring in my step, and I felt like I didn’t have a care in the world.

In thinking about my modest crisis avoided, I find myself wondering why it takes a problem resolved to elicit this kind of joy and relief.  I know it is a natural human reaction.   But is it faithful?  Does not God promise us that grace and joy are abundantly present in our world, if we simply have the eyes to see them?  Why does it take something like this to open my eyes?  Why can’t I simply awaken from my bed and experience this kind of “new life” each and every morning?  I do sometimes, but not nearly often enough.  We so easily permit obstacles to arise in our lives that prevent us from seeing the goodness of God radiating from the world around us.  In a broken world, there certainly real places where joy is dimmed.  But not in as many places as we imagine that to be the case.  So may a prayer for eyes that are more open to grace, and spirits more willing to see the potency of God’s presence among us are in order.  Pray with me this week, would you?


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Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.

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