GC2016 Day 3: Rev. Bill Shillady

GC2016 Day 3: Rev. Bill Shillady


5/12/2016

Nehemiah 8

 9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

In the midst of General Conference, there have been some joyful moments.  I have enjoyed seeing friends whom I haven’t seen for years.   The worship is joy-filled and hope-filled.  The Episcopal address by Bishop Gregory Palmer got at the heart of the matter reminding us that everyone is a child of God. “Everyone here is a child of God. Any behavior to the contrary of that truth undermines the gospel and is a choice to live beneath our privilege.”  That is the essence of God’s joy as we love everyone for they are the image of God.

But still we are debating the rules because there is a proposal to have a new process to approach the LBGTQI issue and the conservatives want to defeat it.  Anger and hate seem to be at the center of the debate.  The Joy-filled balloon of hope seems to ready to burst. As Palmer said in his address: “Our capacity to turn on each other is destroying the soul of this church and underserving the mission.”

So as I was reading a devotional this morning, I was reminded of the necessity of joy. Nehemiah said to his grieving community, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep. . .Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Lord I need some of the joy for the strength to carry on at General Conference but each day of my life. No matter what obstacles, we may face, no matter what hurdles we may experience, no matter the anger and viciousness of others, no matter how tired I may feel, I will work diligently to find strength in God’s joy to see each person as a child of God.  Without God’s joy, we will be weak and hopeless.

As Jesus taught in John that he is the vine and we are the fruit (John 15) we are to abide in his love just as he abides in God’s love.  It is his aim that we should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy but His joy: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

The psalmist says, “For God’s anger is but for a moment; God’s favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” “Today is a new day that begins with God’s joy.  God has redeemed this day. If we are going to know joy, it must be in this day—today.

Prayer:  Lord, I need your strength.  So I need JOY.  Make me joy-filled at every moment this day.  AMEN.