by Mikel Berger
I spent last evening skimming through my sermon notes. The Ecclesiastes sermon series has been very impactful already. In my Bible, I noticed a pattern as I read the verses that I had underlined during each sermon:
- "A man should rejoice in his work." (3:22)
- "I commend joy." (8:15)
- "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do." (9:7)
- "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love." (9:9)
- "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." (9:10)
My summary paraphrase: "I order you to do stuff with joy!" -God
God orders us to be full of joy!
There are the verbs rejoice and enjoy. There is the noun joy. God commanded us to be in joy. We are to do other actions in joy’s presence.
We have this joy amid our actions. We are to do stuff. With joy! Work. Eat. Drink. Live life with your wife. Whatever your hand finds to do. God’s not picky. Do stuff! But do it with joy. It’s good for us, and it pleases him.
Today was a hard day. Not so much for me, but for the people around me. It all seemed a little vain earlier in the day, if I’m honest—much hevel. A colleague’s mother died earlier this morning. Consoling an employee at the death of a parent wasn’t exactly part of my degree program. The team stepped up. They dealt with the craziness that his unexpected absence at work today created. But it was hard. And between that stuff, I had a bunch of mundane things on my task list that I had been deferring. I dealt with way too many banks today. No offense to any of the beautiful human beings in our church family who work at banks. It wasn’t any of them.
Let’s say I wasn’t feeling a whole lot of joy today on my own.
Then I got home and got a message from Tonya Small asking if we could talk. It sounded urgent. Tonya serves as the Director of Engage. Engage is our church’s ministry to orphaned and vulnerable children. So when Tonya wants to chat, it could be any number of things. She told me of the increasing number of calls she is receiving. There is a growing need for foster and adoptive families in our community. Tonya sees the condition but doesn’t see the answers for it. So she asked for my help.
So, church family, I can’t do much, but I do get a platform to write to you all every so often. I’m using this platform today to call you to prayer. And not in the superficial midwestern cultural Christianity way we often say, “I’ll be praying for you.” Like down on your knees praying. Put your body in alignment with where your spirit should be.
There is a need. There’s something to do. It’s tough. But we need to do it and do it with joy. Pray for these kids. Pray for their caregivers. Ask God some hard questions. Why is this happening? What is he calling you to do about it? What is he calling your family and close friends? Your community group?
After you pray in that way, please tell Tonya and me. Would you please email us (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)?
We are planning to host a lunch after the worship gathernig on Sunday, August 29. At that lunch we will share some very specific needs in our church family and our broader community. God is calling our church family to address these needs. He loves the fatherless. You should do something and be part of that lunch. We’ll provide the food. You bring your joy.