Just a note: When I write The View From The Pew (t.v.f.t.p.) I am describing what I experience with as much objective input as possible. When I discuss the pastor’s lesson I want to make sure that I include as much as he teaches. I can easily remember the gist of the lesson, but being human, my own biases or interpretations will work their ways in but I’ll sometimes forget a point here or there.
Pastor Sattler said long ago when operating a small group it is more important to bring people together in love and community than it is to dot every jot and cross every tittle when it comes to biblical accuracy. He said heresies can always be fixed later. I hope when you read what I write that it isn’t exactly what was preached but what I add doesn’t lead anyone astray. I never intend to criticize. If the pastors read t.v.f.t.p. and find it wanting, I hope they’ll find time to correct me but if not there are others I trust in the Lord to straighten my path.
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First, let us give thanks to the Bennet family, who for the past two years were driving up from the boondocks (any place with +50 other churches between their home and Holy Cross) to play piano and sing in the Saturday evening praise band. Yay! for lovely voices and a smartly played piano.
This weekend’s lesson centered on the difference between joy and happiness but mostly on the joy brought on by faith. Hebrews 11 (read it) explained how Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, etc, by faith in the words of the prophets, believed a promise given unto them of a future savior. This promise gave them a way to see the end of the tunnel, to help get them through their daily grinds by trusting that something better was in their future. Maybe not specifically for their own selves but for the nation of Israel as a whole. Those of us living in this present darkness have the advantage of either having seen the light when Christ was incarnate or by virtue of the Holy Ghost and scripture since His ascendance.
Joy is an ‘upper story’ emotion, the feeling we will have when we go to live with God eternally. The ‘upper story’ is the plan God created from the beginning, the way of perfection and unity between Him and us. At one time there was only one story, from Creation until sin but that same story returns in the final chapters of Revelation. The best way I can explain joy on Earth is when you are involved in something like a game, a party with friends or on a run that feels so easy. There will come a time when you think to yourself, “where did the time go?”, what you were enjoying seemed to pass in a moment. I’m certain that there will be no sense of time in Heaven. This is the opposite of a place like a hospital waiting room when the clock seems to tick slower than ever and you were certain it tocked backward a second when you glanced at it being knee deep in something hard to understand at the time.
Happiness is a ‘lower story’ emotion. The lower story is what happens to us living sinful lives accepting or rejecting the good things He has for us to help get us through the night. Happiness is the feeling you get when you fall in love, see your baby for the first time, your favorite team wins, you lose a few pounds or your favorite author releases another book. You get a smile on your face but something, sometime, somewhere wipes it away. It could be a stubbed toe, an arrest, a hospital bill, your bike gets a flat tire, you’re called in to work on Saturday. It’s the world poking its nose in your business. You know the drill.
So, how does one have joy down here on Earth when it’s only in Heaven? By being aware of the connection you have to The Father through the living spirit inside you. The image that comes to mind is that of a deep sea diver (you, the Christian) with the big bell helmet and bulky suit with the air hose (holy ghost) that goes up to the boat (Heaven). I guess everyone else is OK until they exhale.
(Yeah, that was pretty bad.)
“Mighty to Save” (Everyone needs compassion, A love that’s never ending. Let mercy fall on me. Everyone needs forgiveness, The kindness of a savior, The hope of nations) was a favorite song of mine sung. And we ate and drank holy communion, recited The Nicene Creed, and prayed to our great God. It was a fine service. Be sure to visit your local house of worship this coming weekend.