The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Represent joy!'

The mind is a most wonderful gift from God, and ideas can be stimulating prompts from the Lord. Their comings are sometimes surprising — and helpful. I was once awakened by my wife, Pauline, talking in her sleep. (She remembers nothing of this.) I lay there trying to get the gist of it. But nothing was clear, until I suddenly heard two words, "Represent joy!" As if she knew I needed the emphasis, Pauline said again, "Represent joy!"

I became captivated by those two words, and they lingered in my mind. They reminded me of a seminary professor who had helpful and practical advice for us young pastors-to-be. What I remember most from his class are two words he often repeated to his students: "Stay radiant!" He had some tough things to deal with throughout his life. The words had proven important in his experience.

Now I have my two-word reminder of what God wants to see in my life — and also in yours. Represent joy! When God created the world, God looked around and made this pronouncement: "Very good!" (Another two-word expression to ponder.) And while Adam and Eve enjoyed the garden, there were likely holy hints to them about how they should best help other people. Represent joy!

We have just experienced another celebration of Easter, and what greater reason is there to celebrate if not Jesus' rising from the dead and offering to share that victory with each of us? Who else has a better reason to represent joy to others and to the world than Christians who know they share the victory of Christ?

Paul had a series of two important words to share as he preached: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

I would love to have my life be an invitation to others to represent joy through their everyday lives and contacts. Let's take this as a calling from the Lord who loves us and wants the Easter celebration to keep going: Represent joy!

Check out this week's articles:

cover1Dreams of home: (right) In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, church partners help families cope.

Sage for the ages: Edmond Yee's legacy is a generation of diverse leaders.

Recycling as ministry: In this town, garage sales are unnecessary.

Get informed: Sexuality documents 8 years in making.

Also: Council moves along sexuality proposals.

Also: Finances reshaped as economy struggles.

Also: ELCA structure review.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Diana Dworin The milk and cookies feast:

Parenting blogger Diana Dworin writes about worshiping across town, where her children got to put their crumby fingerprints all over the ELCA presiding bishop's pectoral cross.

Check out her blog...

This week on our blog:

Amber Leberman (right) blogs about a video on Lutherans, kitchens and signs.

Kathleen Kastilahn writes about caring commuters.

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about electronic giving.

Tell us! Pastor goofs

For some of you it was just last Sunday, for others it was years ago. Pastors, please share with us your funniest — yes, likely embarrassing — ministry stories.

Send your 100-word stories to Julie Sevig at julie.sevig@thelutheran.org or respond online.

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February issue


Embracing diversity