So today was interesting.
For those of you who weren’t in church today, I had to bring all three kids with me to service because my wife is helping a friend with a project out in Surrey, and our usual suspects in terms of child care also have their own services to attend. So I thought it was best that they just come with me, when technically I will have my eyes on them (I see you all sitting in the congregation… just sayin’).
And everything was fine. They came into the sanctuary for service just fine. I think things started to fall apart when I gave them the children’s story, right before the reading of scripture.
What a mistake that was. (Again, for the sake of you who weren’t here today) I told them that we are playing a game, that they had to try to cross this line in order to be where Jesus is. But as with any game, this game has rules, and they could only go over the line and win if they didn’t ever lie, cheat, act defiantly, be rebellious, act on jealousy… and the list went on. And I said that sometimes we get caught up with the rules that we don’t feel like we could ever win. But the good news is that Jesus takes away the line, and that while rules matter, Jesus will still love us and call us friends even when we don’t follow them.
And… yeah so they decided not to follow any rules for the rest of the service. Talk about shooting myself in the foot. I sure hope no one noticed (however I realise that is highly unlikely).
Jesus is praying for his disciples on the night that he was betrayed, which in itself is a really beautiful gesture and moment, but the content of the actual prayer is what is speaking to me. The one piece that I admit that I never really focused on (or at least noticed from what I recall) is how Jesus gives the reason for his mission and life, and that is in verse 13 where Jesus says, “so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.”
His joy complete in us?
Suddenly things seem different. All the things that we learn, the things we try to do, the stuff that we deem as right and wrong, that is all about our own joy. Those rules that we feel like we should follow then lament when we don’t is for our joy. The knowledge of the forgiveness that we receive and as we in turn forgive others, that is for our joy.
I admit that as my kids were acting up during the service, I was wondering what extent of corporal punishment I could execute before they’re taken away from me (perhaps “execute” wasn’t the best choice of words there… or was it?). But then I started thinking, if Jesus were here right now preaching this sermon that I am clearly botching up, what would he be thinking about these kids? How would he handle this situation? How would their blatant insubordination and disobedience affect him?
And I came to the conclusion that Jesus would probably laugh. Not at the kids, because that would be mean, but just with them. Jesus might have changed the service on the fly to be more inclusive of these kids, maybe even have them sit with him. Jesus could have revealed to all that this is what community looks like, that as we stretch across the boundaries of culture, gender, and age, that some of us are going to be a bit louder than others (just like how some of us are going to be a bit more asleep than others… I can see you, remember?).
But above all, Jesus will love them and revel in their joy. Jesus will embrace them for all that they are (rambunctious and energetic) and all that they really aren’t (lethargic and compliant). Jesus would forgive them in their mistakes, not to make them feel guilty or to give them permission to continue in their behaviour, but for the sole purpose of them having that complete joy.
Complete joy in knowing that we are loved. Complete joy in knowing that we are welcomed as we are. Complete joy in knowing that the God of the universe has chosen us to be called friends.
I don’t think that one semi-stressful morning could ever take that away from me. At least I really hope it won’t ever, as God’s promise to us is true and I would like to be thankful and appreciative for that always.
Have a great week everyone!