Lutheran Church Extension Fund

JOY Is Baptismal Renewal!

Reading time: 3 minutes What does JOY look like?  I’ve got a pretty good idea of what joy looks like.  I’ve seen it a few times. Soldier_ReunionHave you ever been at a ball game where the announcer says over the loudspeaker, “Today we honor the families of our military personnel serving overseas…” and out marches some children of soldiers?  Then suddenly, sneaking up on the children from behind, comes daddy or mommy, returned home from service unannounced and sooner than expected. When the children see mom or dad for the first time, the surprise reunion, that’s what joy looks like.  The soldier has been experiencing it all along at the thought of the impending reunion.  The child experiences it when falling into the arms of her loving parent.  That’s joy! If they told me I had to preach on only one chapter of the Bible the rest of my life, I think I’d choose Luke 15: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Lost Son. Prodigal_SonThe fruit of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22), and the best description of joy I see in the Scriptures are the three depictions of God finding His lost ones in Luke 15.  The shepherd and the woman say the very same thing to their friends and neighbors, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin/sheep!” (Luke 15:6/9, NIV)  The father (Father?) in the Lost Son story displays his joy in even greater fashion, running, embracing, feasting and celebrating with his reunited son. There’s nothing more joyful than a reunion with those we love. Baptismal Wellbeing is remembering that for those who live in God’s baptismal grace, every moment is an opportunity for a joyful reunion. Jesus tells us in Luke 15 that there is rejoicing among the angels of God when a sinner repents.  Martin Luther said that baptismal grace gives us the invitation to daily, (and I take that to mean “moment by moment through the day”) confess our sins, drown the old sinful nature, and arise again to new life. That’s like having a joy-filled reunion with our Father in heaven over and over again each day.  And like the soldier’s reunion and the father’s reunion with the prodigal son, our Father knows that joy even in the moments we are still feeling a long way off. Our Mission Statement at Grace Place Wellness says that we “nurture vitality and joy in ministry by inspiring and equipping church workers to lead healthy lives.”  We believe that JOY IN MINISTRY is a marker of a healthy, well-balanced life in ministry.  The absence of joy is an indicator that something is wrong. Wellness_WheelOver the next weeks, I’ll be working my way around The Lutheran Wellness Wheel again with a focus on joy.  We’ll see how balanced, healthy living in each aspect of wellness can be a source of joy. So for today, when the stress of living, when your own sin or the sins of others cause you stress, anxiety and sadness, pause and remember who you are, a child of the heavenly Father, who loves you completely, even though you don’t deserve it.  Welcome His embrace.  Hear the angels rejoice. And rejoice with them! Next week we’ll look at JOY and Spiritual Wellbeing. Thanks for reading! Darrell Zimmerman, VP/Program Director Are you interested in helping bring a Grace Place Wellness Retreat to your region?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact our President/CEO Randy Fauser today to begin exploring the possibilities.  We’d love to bring our Classic Retreat to your area soon!