Joy Through Tears

Our Lenten theme, " Joy through tears" continues to resonate with a great many  people in our congregation and indeed town. I've discovered this through a number of conversations this week. Learning to give thanks for the good things in life, for the small things and for the kindness of others, is an important aspect of living and walking in the cross shaped life.

Living out the Spirit of  Christ in our every day lives requires us all to appreciate the people and the things that appear insignificant but in fact turn out to be more significant than we might ever have thought. One of our  elder's Guthrie Pollock contributed the picture of the butterfly to our lenten theme earlier today when he took part in our art workshop. Is quite a miracle to think that the insignificant caterpillar becomes through struggle an amazing butterfly.  

I asked those who have been attending our studies  on a Wednesday evening to write prayers that reflect this spirit of thankfulness and hope through times of sadness and disappointment. that reflect our own personal resurrections.  The following prayer arrived in my inbox last week.

Heavenly Father,
There have been days, weeks, months and years when I have denied you. 
In those days, weeks, months and years I experienced some of the darkest moments of my life. 
Uncontrollable hurt, pain, frustration, anger, fear and despair.
And loneliness.
I realise now that throughout all of those dark moments, when my life truly lay in the balance, that despite my denying you - you never ever left me.
You were there with me. Loving me. Guiding me. Sending me your gifts of love in the people you chose to awaken me to your unconditional and eternal love.
Thank you Lord, for never giving up. Especially when I had given up on everything.
Thank you for restoring my heart and filling it with joy.
Help me share your joy, and your love in more than just my thoughts. Help me deliver them through my actions, day by day.

This week I found myself conducting the funeral of a man who suffered with a diaability that no doubt caused him on many occasions great anquish and sadness. Yet through it  all he was able to often bring out  the best in our community and those he met on a daily basis. He was someone who lived with vulnerability but appeared at times to be oblivious of his peronal needs because he found great comfort and acceptance from many members of the public in our community. 

When the hearse drove through the town scores of people stopped and clapped as it passed.  In nearly thirty four years of ministry I've never seen anything like it. Something was stirred in the hearts of those who attended his funeral. They were encountering a certain kind of joy and comfort  and dare I say hope, that can only come from acknowleding the pain and the trust and shear bravery of those who are vulnerable.  This of course makes great sense when the hope of the Christian gospel is encountered as mourners search for meaning and hope.

Earlier today I attended our Lenten art workshop led by Manna Dobo helping us to engage at another level with the topic "Joy through tears". I found the experience to be wonderfully relaxing and engaging.

I'm hoping we will have an amazing collection of  original art and photography and music all specially brought together and created  for our Holy week Art Exhibition. I'm delighted that the primary schools in the town have a agreed to take part. On Friday morning I ws able to tell the story of Peter's denial to a group of P6s. They in turn will try to express some of the feelings of Peter by producing pictures that will contribute to the Holy Week Art Exhibition.

I'm  even looking forward to the production of another short film engaging with the Easter theme. Meanwhile its interesting  what you can do with paint wax and paper. 

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