Week One: United in Prayers that Give Glory to Jesus|
|Feb 4||Feb 5||Feb 6||Feb 7||Feb 8||Feb 9|
Week Two: United in Prayers for the Saving of Souls|
|Feb 10||Feb 11||Feb 12||Feb 13||Feb 14||Feb 15||Feb 16|
Week Three: United in Prayers that We May Be One in Christ|
|Feb 17||Feb 18||Feb 19||Feb 20||Feb 21||Feb 22||Feb 23|
Week Four: United in Prayer to Increase our Joy|
|Feb 24||Feb 25||Feb 26||Feb 27||Feb 28||Feb 29||Mar 1|
Week Five: United in Prayers that Stand for Truth and Justice|
|Mar 2||Mar 3||Mar 4||Mar 5||Mar 6||Mar 7||Mar 8|
Week Six: United in Prayers that The Whole Christian Church May Be One|
|Mar 9||Mar 10||Mar 11||Mar 12||Mar 13||Mar 14||Mar 15|
Week Seven: United in Prayers of Complete Love for One Another|
|Mar 16||Mar 17||Mar 18||Mar 19||Mar 20||Mar 21||Mar 22|
March 1, 2008
"How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?" I Thessalonians 3:9
I have a hunch that all of us, at one time or another, have looked forward to going to a reunion. Some of us go to great distances to maintain those family and friendship ties. I come from a large family. Four siblings, 57 first cousins. Family reunions are big events! Big groups. Big fun. This summer my siblings and I will host a group of more than 100 for the 30th annual Schmidt family reunion – my mother's family. My mother and her three living siblings (three already live in heaven), ages 88 to 96, will be there, along with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And even a few great-great-grandchildren. It will also be 100 years since my mother's parents were married. I wonder if George and Minnie Schmidt ever expected to be the forebears of such a crowd!
Thinking about that reunion helps me to understand the joy Paul is talking about. There is joy in looking forward to seeing someone with whom you shared antics as you were growing up. There is joy in seeing cousins and their kids and catching up on what everyone is doing. There is particular joy in this family because so many of them are serving the Lord. Those vocations range from teacher to pastor to missionary in Africa to elder to church planter to gospel singer to Lutheran Layman's League leadership. My farm-family family tree has wandered quite broadly from that farm in Michigan.
So what's the reason for joy? Is it to celebrate family relationships? Certainly. But it's also to celebrate the unity of faith in this far-flung group. That's the real reason for joy. Joy in the presence of God.
We have a similar joy at St. John's. It's a family even bigger than my Schmidt family. It's a family with the same diversity of ages and interests and vocations. And it's a family with the same unity of faith.
That's real joy!! The joy of encouragement, especially in the face of hurt and pain. The joy of help when someone needs something fixed or moved. The joy of a hug when we feel alone. The joy of knowing you're in a place where people care and really want an answer when they ask how you're doing.
Every week when we gather to worship or study or sing, we both get and give encouragement. Consider this: your very presence in worship and activities at St. John's is an encouragement to others. It's true. The very activity that encourages you, encourages those around you. I have a mental picture of God's smile as he watches us worship, not just because we are praising him, but also because we do it together.
It may be just as hard in the St. John's family as in the Schmidt family to keep track of everyone and to know everyone's name. But it's important. It begets joy. Real joy! So spread some joy by welcoming others, by remembering names, by words of encouragement. Let's unite as God's family of joy!
Heavenly Father, keep us together as your precious children and increase our joy for one another. Amen.
Shirley K. Morgenthaler