Overwhelming joy. Joy that, like some river which refuses to be contained, insists on spilling over and covering everything in sight.
That's sort of what life was like around our church this past weekend: overwhelming joy.
Things got started on Thursday afternoon and evening. We're adjacent to a public elementary school. Our congregation cares about those kids and their families. We do things like sponsoring the school's back-to-school cook out. We grill and serve the food...help direct foot traffic.
The students were having their Christmas/ holiday program in our church gymnasium/multi-purpose room Thursday night. We offer the school our facility. There's no cost. It is a great place for the program...the school doesn't have anything like it. In the afternoon the teachers walked them over to the gym...with its lighted Christmas tree and lights running the length of the stage. It was cool! Then, Thursday night nearly 1,000 students, parents and relatives filled our Trinity Life Center. Oh, man...
The flood of joy continued Saturday morning as we hosted "evaluation day" for our Upward Basketball program. It was a snowy, cold morning. Cars pulled up from 8:30 to 2:30, parents and their children came into the TLC, and you should have seen their faces! The kids could hear basketballs bouncing off the hardwood floor, and their faces lit up. Scores of volunteers from the church -men and women- were working with the kids. Last year we had about 140 children in the league...so far we have 287 signed up! In our first year of Upward Cheerleading we have more than 55 girls already registered. There was joy...and tons of sweaty little kids...everywhere you looked.
There was worship Saturday night and Sunday morning. All the services are places where the living Christ shows up, but Saturday night something special was going on. People were worshipping...the room was warm... the lights were beautiful. It was just right...
The river of joy continued into Sunday night as the children of Trinity put on their Christmas pageant in the TLC. They were awesome...parents and grandparents were nearly coming out of their chairs with pride and delight as the children sang their songs...delivered their lines.
It was almost too much! Sort of the way, when the family would get together, my Grandpa Owen would keep delivering more food to the table... long after you had eaten more than enough. So much joy...it left me beaming and almost exhausted.
And then there is the other side of life. I did something to my right hand late last summer while skiing at Hamilton Lake. The thing has gotten worse through the fall. Tingling and numbness...becoming more pronounced. So my family physician sent me to a hand specialist. During the morning's appointment (the hand will be as good as new after some minor surgery in January) the nurse asked for my medical history...my family history. I sat there answering her questions and suddenly I felt like weeping. Somehow that conversation tapped into an underground creek of sadness. Usually, I do pretty well getting along without the people I have loved who have gone to God's house. But sometimes I miss them... I really miss them. I studied the ceiling tiles, took a deep breath, and looked away from the nurse.
I regard it all as a gift from God. The rivers of joy and the creeks of sadness: I regard it all as a gift from God.