A Joyless Church

Have you seen one? Have you been to one? By definition, joyless means “not giving or feeling any pleasure or satisfaction; grim or dismal.” (Dictionary of Oxford languages, Google, 2021). Grim? Dismal? Not giving any feeling? Wow. Yup. I have seen it before. To their defense, a church without joy is probably more common than not, given the current world status. But… Um. aren’t Christians carriers to the greatest message ever? Like the GOOD NEWS? Aren’t they suppose to be happy? Joyful? All the time? Well, realistically, we cannot all be happy all of the time. Life is difficult, but overall, we, that is the body of Christ, or the church, should stand out from the world with a hope. A hope that we cling to and rely on to keep us steadfast in our faith.

What causes the joyless church? Well, as mentioned, many people are under great stress and it affects everyone. A worldwide pandemic that refuses to let go of its hostage (the world) is affecting us all, believers and unbelievers alike. But, maybe it is also that we have forgotten the one who brings us hope and joy. Maybe we neglect Him and the message of hope found in the Gospel. Or maybe we have been idle.

The apostle Paul mentions the brothers (and sister, for that matter) who are idle in his letter to the church at Thessaloniki. He writes, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” (2 Thess. 3:11, NIV). Ouch Paul.

I wonder what he would think of us now? Would he call us idle and busybodies. Perhaps. But, it has me thinking that maybe that is the root of the joyless churches. Not doing anything to help others, except talk. Or argue. Or gossip.

I have felt the most joy whenever I have been sharing the Gospel or offering an apologetic response, or praying with someone, than when I am just sitting in a church service. To be honest, at times, my mind just wanders during the service. I have heard from others, who say the same. Maybe I am letting my worries and stresses crowd my mind, until they drown out the message of the good news. It is up to me then, to change my thinking, to focus ( and to share) with others the joy that is found in the good news. And to serve others. We have a reason for hope and joy, its time to celebrate and rekindle that joy again. -God Bless- Nancy

Beautiful People

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”- Paul, Romans 10:15

Have you ever met any beautiful people? No, I’m not talking about the good looks of some people, or of “the beautiful people” of privilege, or status, or of wealth, fame and education- but, the really beautiful people. Those whose heart’s are open, kind, loving and beautiful.

My grandmother was a beautiful person, full of kindness and of love. I remember her as always smiling. She seemed genuinely glad to see me when I visited. She would come sit beside me on my grandparents over sized couch and talk with me. She also made the most delicious meals and made it look so easy. She was giving and generous towards others and shared her love of painting and art with others as she taught me how to paint and other how to create their own works of art from clay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that she was perfect. She and my grandfather fought sometimes and she never liked to visit my mom- her daughter- at her home. But, despite her imperfections, she was beautiful. See, its not being perfect all the time or looking perfect all the time that makes a person beautiful; it is something from within that makes us beautiful or ugly.

If someone would have seen my grandmother arguing with my grandad, they would have probably judged her as unkind and even mean. But they would have been wrong. Too often we judge from the outside and miss the beauty within. The beauty of a diamond is the result of intense pressure and of cutting to reveal the sparkling facets. Beauty is often only revealed after the pain suffered. I’m not sure of the reason for my grandmother’s beauty or if she had experienced pain or suffering- I never thought about it much until now to be honest, but I’m sure there was a story. We all have pain in this life that can leave us bitter or better. Beautiful or ugly.

Last time I shared the need to embrace our pain and move forward anyway. Our pain can help others in providing hope of getting through some of the same things we have experienced. I recently watched another beautiful person who had gone through so much share her incredible story of hope. She calls herself nightbirde, in case you’d like to read her story. She did not sugar coat her life, but laid it out for all to hear and to read. She could be bitter, but she chose to be better- to question God about what she was dealt, but realized she discovered the beauty of God in the midst of pain and suffering. The story she told through music was of good news, of hope, despite the odds stacked against her.

It is this message of hope, of Good News, that is so beautiful. We are lowly instruments that get bruised, battered and torn apart because of this life, yet we carry this message of hope; of life; of the beauty and goodness of God. We can share this message, or choose to keep it to ourselves. We can look at the world around us with contempt, or we can embrace it and share God’s love. We have this choice to be beautiful on the inside and reflect God, or remain bitter at life’s unfairness; it is a choice. Our choice. -God Bless Nancy