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Reaching New Places of Thanks

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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: July 2, 2017

Scripture: Psalm 30 and John 6:67-69

This trust psalm recognises that it is not God who causes our calamity – we do it to ourselves. “I shall never be moved,” boasts the psalmist, and that arrogance led to a downfall. Thankfully, despite our faithlessness to God, God continues to be faithful to us. God has the power to turn sorrow into joy.

There’s a difference between a gratitude that exists before some life-changing or traumatic event and the gratitude that springs forth after making it through some life-shattering event. I have a friend who once had brain cancer and had several tumours removed. He literally almost didn’t make it in that Operating Room. This was many years ago, back in 2001. Today this same man is filled with a zest for life that is absolutely inspiring, and very contagious. I often wonder if his contagious and enthused way of living could be compared to this second gratitude that I’ve just described.

Back in the spring of 2010, a young woman named Melissa Hinnant discovered that the baby she’d carried for 5 months would not survive. She was rushed to the hospital and put on emergency bed-rest to delay the delivery. Stuck in bed, Melissa decided to crochet a baby blanket for her unborn daughter. Two weeks into her bed-rest, her labour could not be stopped and she delivered her baby girl. Baby Halle didn’t survive the birth.

Melissa’s love of crochet carried her through her darkest times, and in 2011 she started making boot socks. They became instantly popular and she started selling them online. What started as a tragedy quickly turned into a miracle, as proceeds from her “accidental company,” “Grace and Lace” have built 2 orphanages in India. (For more information on her story, go to GraceAndLace.com.)

Melissa and her husband Rick are examples of how God can transform our darkest times into blessings for others. They eagerly credit God for bringing them up out of the pit and restoring their souls to praise.

“I shall never be moved,” writes the psalmist. The reality is all of us will be moved – shaken to the core – at some point. In this psalm are hope and a promise that one day God can restore us to joy. Whether our miracle is orphanages in India or simply a morning when we wake up and don’t immediately experience the pinch of sorrow, God certainly has the power to turn mourning into dancing.

Speaking of God’s power of turning mourning into dancing, let’s switch to another story; this time of dancing. Do you remember the school dances when you were a teenager? The girls would be sitting on the one side and the guys on the opposite side of the dance floor. The DJ’s music would be blaring, yet only a few brave souls would be on the dance floor. Most of us avoid dancing. We don’t know how to dance and we don’t want to make fools of ourselves. Some of us don’t think there’s really any reason to dance; life sucks.

Dancing is never meant to be an effort to avoid or to cover up the pain of life. No indeed. The purpose of dancing is to acknowledge that there have been times of mourning, but because of God’s activity in our lives there are now times of celebration. There are times when words like “Alleluia,” and “Thank you,” simply aren’t enough. Our praise and thanks need to be expressed through all of our beings, including our bodies. In those times, “twisting and shouting” become acts of worship and as the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” These eventually become the very acts of thankfulness.

Lord, set our feet a dancing and our hearts a singing as we celebrate your love and grace. Amen.

Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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