This weekend I preached at Calvary United Methodist Church in Wichita, KS. Below is the video. If you don't have time for the whole sermon (12 minutes) I included a short transcript of my favorite part below. It will give you a window into what I talked about.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
One contextual note: We sang "Joy To the World" right before the sermon.
I've not had to endure much suffering in my life. For the most part I'm the spitting image of White Male American privilege! Gross right? Anyways, the one time in my life where I did experience some struggle was when Ashley and I adopted our son.
We made connections with the birth mother three weeks before the due date and quickly tried to wrap our heads around this opportunity to become parents. On the day he was born we were waiting in the next room and our son was rolled in to meet us at exactly 5 minutes old. It was a moment of JOY I will never forget.
Not 24 hours into our lives as parents the birth-father decided to contest the adoption. This meant that our becoming a forever family took 4 months of communication with lawyers, an extended stay at my gracious in-laws home, and several moments where we thought we might lose this precious child in our care.
Our son was born several states away and when we when to get him there were some well meaning people who warned us that adoption is the kind of thing that isn't final until it's really really final. They encouraged us to guard our hearts just in case things didn't work out.
You see when they bring you this beautiful, vulnerable, bundle of love in the form of a tiny human you have no choice. The only thing I could do was to pour every ounce of love I had into this child. To give him every bit of my being in any way I could.
And the whole time I knew that the more I loved him the more I opened my self up to experiencing great amounts of Joy. I also knew that the more I loved him I also opened myself up to great amounts of suffering. Now 5 years later, that hasn't really changed. If we are going to people of love we must take joy and suffering together.
You see joy and suffering are not opposites. They are linked together in an inseparable kind of way. And because of joy I laugh more easily....but I also weep more easily.
The goal of Joy is not to be happy. It is to be conduits of love a world that needs it desperately. And the way to experience more joy is to be completely and relentlessly connected to sources of love.
Next weeks blog post I will be sharing some practices that are specifically designed to help increase joy. Be sure to sign up to the Tune In Tip. This weekly email will help you stay connected with all my content as well as give you a weekly practice that will keep you in tune with the person you want to be in the world.