Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…

She smiled and said “Jimmy Page.” Being the faithful Ace Hardware employee (Oak Harbor) and recognizing I was probably not the best at directions, she was leading me down the aisle toward my appointed purchase when my phone began to ring. Well, not actually a ring but a song, and she instantly recognized the musician, Jimmy Page. Our mutual smiles suggested for a brief second that we could both visualize Jimmy Page strutting across the stage to the driving beat of “Kashmir.” What? Did I just lose you in a time warp? You’re not a Led Zeppelin fan?

Okay, I forgive you. Nonetheless, it makes me smile. My ringtone, that is. All it takes is an incoming phone call and no matter how bummed I might be in that instant, I smile. I will let it “ring” as long as possible just because it makes me happy. I know, there’s no accounting for taste.

There’s another tune that has stuck in my head for over sixty years. Remember the movie, “The High and the Mighty?” John Wayne, Robert Stack, Claire Trevor…. Okay, okay, I am dating myself but if you remember the movie (1954) you remember the haunting tune the John Wayne character would whistle. Believing I was all alone one day, I walked into my former parish sanctuary whistling the tune only to have our organist join me. Following our duet all she said was, “Great movie!”

The point I am trying to make in these two music memories is the sense of shared experience. There was someone in that moment that heard what I heard, appreciated what I appreciated, and there was an instant connection. It was joyful.

Joy is a spiritual gift. One can will themselves to be happy, but you cannot will yourself to have joy. Joy comes from without, like hearing a song that transforms your attitude. Or hearing a song with a perfect stranger that kindles a mutual smile and lifts you both to a place of warm memories. Joy is a gift that betrays the presence of a spirit that can have little to do with being happy.

The story is told of a man who, upon accepting Jesus as Lord and converting to Christianity, was banished from family and community. He lost everything including wealth, loved ones, social position, and even his health. He was asked how he managed to endure such hardships and he responded, “Why is it no one asks me of my joy? Why am I not asked of the joy I have found in Christ?” It is too easy these days with all our problems (which are real and horrific) to succumb to “happy” as the final arbiter of our life.

Knowing that there would be difficult days ahead for his disciples, Jesus instructed them to remain in his love as he had remained in the Father’s love. “I have told you this that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you,” John 15:11-12. Joy is a gift that transcends our human condition. Jesus tied joy to love for one another because it is in the context of our loving service to one another that the Spirit opens our hearts to possibilities beyond our willpower or state of mind.

Test me on this if I am false. If there is insufficient joy in your life, volunteer; find a place to safely serve. Enter into relationships where the giving away of your life might yield a harvest of joy. There are difficult days ahead, no question. Consider a commitment this new year to not be a victim to all that is wrong; rather, seek a generous lifestyle with one another and find joy.

Let me know if you want to hear my ring tone.

Peace and love,
Pastor Tom