I am not preaching this Sunday for All Saints.
I love Disney – and I have written high praises in the past about their theme parks, and what they can teach the church. (Look in the main menu under Church & Mission – Disney!)
If I was preaching this Sunday something I might consider exploring is this: Disney is self-acclaimed: “the happiest place on earth” and yet that happiness is elusive. Those parks provide a completely articificial and manufactured experience that does not carry over into our daily lives once we go home. We experience blissful joy in Magic Kingdom. It is sad to leave and return to the ordinary.
Juxtapose Disney’s notion of “the happiest place on earth” with what Jesus calls blessing: poverty, hunger, weeping and persecution (among other things). These traits are not usually descriptions of how we define happiness (which are the things Jesus calls ‘woe’).
I am curious about both how we equate happiness with blessing in our culture.
If you have ever met someone you would call “saintly,” you would probably think about them as generous, compasionate, patient and enduring people. More than likely these folks have put up with a lot of the worst of things life has to offer yet somehow remain both faithful and contagiously cheerful. Why?
I’ll keep thinking about this as I wait in line for rides at the parks. I’ll consider it as I spend time with my family too. I invite you to contemplate with me the disctinction between the kind of enduring blessing Jesus promises and the version happiness the world offers that eludes us so easily.
Remember that you are a Saint of God; not because of your holiness or capacity for happiness, but because of God’s blessing that meets us in the most challenging moments of our lives to be a blessing to others – and shine.
“Looking at his disciples, (Jesus) said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets…'” (Luke 6:20-23)