This Sunday morning past, God surprised me. That is not an earth-shattering observation in that I am a simple soul … a soul easily amused … and more easily surprised. But sometimes the blindness of my inner eye of faith, prevents me from seeing the joy of God breaking through into our world at times unexpected. But this past Sunday I was blessed to have “eyes to see.”
The surprise came in two parts. The first moment followed our announcements and confession at the late traditional service, as we began to sing the opening hymn. I looked back to the main sanctuary doors knowing that we did not have an acolyte/crossbearer for the day, and low and behold, there was the processional cross being held high as the opening notes of our entrance hymn began. Our head usher noticed not only that we had a choir (which typically would invite the presence of a cross-bearer), but that we also did not have an acolyte assigned for the service. So, in the spur of the moment, he grabbed the processional cross and led the choir into worship. All I could do was smile and give thanks for his reminder to us all that we are never too old to serve God in new ways.
Then came the time for the children’s sermon. A small but courageous group of kiddos came down for our sermon on the topic of stubbornness, and how God can actually use that to the good in our lives at times, as was done with the widow in our Gospel Lesson. Unfortunately, none of the kids really knew what the word “stubborn” meant, so I lost a little sermonic steam at that point. But we finished, and I arrived at a quick self-assessment of the sermon as a B-minus/C+ at best. I turned to head back up to the altar area, and as my head panned around to my right, there was one of our little girls skipping back to her seat from the children’s sermon. All I could do was smile. And I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could skip towards and away from our encounters with God’s Word … an experience that is promised to place us in the presence of God. For just a couple of moments (since I still had a second sermon to preach), I thought about our typically serious engagement of the word of God and the worship of God. How often do we take the time to model our joy over the grace of God active in our lives? Probably not as often as we could or should.
So, you have an easy assignment this week. Laugh at something … someone … someplace … where you experience the presence of God. Better yet, try to elicit some laughter in a situation that does not appear to be very humorous. See if your laughter might in fact actively channel the presence of God into that moment. You could try worse things in the name of faith than laughter, right? And if you think of it and are comfortable doing so, share your story with me. I’d love to laugh and smile with you in retrospect.