Rev. Jane R. Dunning
The seventy returned with joy…
What is Joy? What feeling does that bring to mind?
French philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offers this definition:
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Where have I seen joy?
I have seen it in the eyes of my giggly grandchildren when we spend time together.
I have seen it in the eyes of friends and strangers when there is a warm and loving greeting.
I have seen it in the embrace of friends and family when a loved one comes home at last.
It is a warmth that overflows, and a sense of peace deep within..
It is the feeling gratitude for the unexpected blessings that brighten our day
It is the feeling of being truly blessed…
True joy is far deeper than just the happiness of the moment…
True joy is a sign that the Kingdom of God has come near.
The word used in the original Greek gospel is “chara”
The Greek word “chara” means the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord, which is then expressed by love for others…
Jesus sent out the seventy, two by two, into the surrounding villages to be bearers of his message of Gods abiding Love…
He blesses them and sends them with just the clothes on their backs and the company of each other. They have no change of clothing, no supplies, not even an extra pair of sandals… They have no publicity, no audio system, no loudspeakers, none of today’s fancy paraphernalia.
They carry nothing but the presence of God as they go out on their mission.
Just two by two, out into the world. Wherever they go, they are to say, The Kingdom of God has come near.”
Jesus has come to know these men, and they have felt the deep calling to follow him, to learn from him, to let him into their hearts and their deepest longings.
He knows their gifts and empowers them to take these gifts to spread the word of God’s love, Gods healing, and Gods peace.
They have a found, within themselves, a deep calling to proclaim the gospel, the good news, and they are now taking the first steps of that journey…
I believe strongly that each of us has been given our own personal gifts, gifts that are our strength, those gifts which will bring blessing to those we meet along the way.
For many years, I was a teacher, first in Kindergarten, then in First Grade… I loved the job, I loved the kids, and thought that this was the best fit for me.
When I started teaching, back in 1988, there were no ordained women in the Episcopal Church. In fact, there were no women or girls on the altar, no girl acolytes, no girl crucifers. Women were only serving behind the scenes, serving as the altar guild, choir, and ushers… Never on the altar.
On July 28, 1974, eleven women were ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia, without the official approval of the church, and there was much furor and controversy. Two years later, in 1976, General Convention approved the ordination of women. Now it was official.
Later this month, we will celebrate 45 years since these eleven women were ordained to the priesthood…
This change had a significant impact on the church. It has also had an impact on my life personally, on my sense of who I was and where God was calling me. Fifteen years later, I was ordained deacon and then priest.
As I look back on my life I am amazed at the opportunities I have been given and the amazing joy that I known in my ministry..
Each of us has a calling to ministry. Sometimes it may take years to discover the ministry that brings us the deepest satisfaction, that brings us joy.
God calls each of us out to be bearers of God’s love and healing power, using our gifts in service to others, in whatever way fits our strengths and brings us joy. As Jesus sent the seventy out into the countryside in witness to Gods Love, so we are called to follow… not alone, but in twos or threes or even more…
May God bless each of us in our ministry, and like the seventy, may your journey bring you joy.
May you find joy, in the words of the poet, John O’Donohue:
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace….
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”
Note: John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
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