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This Joy That I Have

A sermon series inspired by the “Pillars of Joy” arising from a five-day visit and conversation between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as chronicled in The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.

Old Red Barn

This Joy That I Have: The Pillar of Gratitude

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk who has, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, spent much of his life engaged in Christian-Buddhist dialogue, and who curates a wonderful website called, has said, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy” (quoted in The Book of Joy, p. 242).

The Dalai Lama counsels: every day as you wake up, think, “I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it”.

This Joy That I Have: Acceptance and Forgiveness

There are different ways that Romans 5:3 — a particularly challenging verse in our passages for today — is translated. “Boast in sufferings,” “take pride in our problems,” “gladly suffer” … and what is the point? It’s this concept that the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu, in The Book of Joy, call acceptance. It is “the opposite of resignation and defeat… It allows us to engage with life on its own terms rather than rail against the fact that life is not as we would wish”. It is embracing ALL opportunities to grow our character, to increase our capacity to weather difficulty, and particularly, perhaps, our ability to accept other people in all their messiness, to extend grace, not only to others’ imperfections, but to extend grace toward ourselves, accepting and forgiving ourselves and and taking life as it comes.

This Joy That I Have: The Pillar of Humility

Because life is messy, and it requires humility to go through it with grace — especially because we go through it with other people. This past week (at Camp Noah was one of feeling, over and over, that I was not “the best one” but “the one who was there.” We on the staff had to work together, trust each other, trust the safe space we were creating, trust the curriculum, trust our.” intuition, and trust the Holy Spirit. None of us was perfect, and none of us could do it all. Offering our gifts humbly, as caring, older people who have, like all human beings, also experienced grief and loss and come through, however imperfectly, trusting God to let that love plant seeds, and even trusting the kids to heal each other as they formed friendships and worked in small groups and played and sometimes got silly with each other, was quite something to be a part of.