Five Minutes on Friday #39


Church conflict — heard of it? — is confusing stuff. Unfinished stuff from family of origin gets activated in the family of God (really?) and people do old conflicts in the same old ways. Fifty years ago I asked Illinois bishop A. C. Good what he had learned from church fights. He said, “When it is a choice between doctrine and relationship, always sacrifice doctrine, because it is self-correcting. Relationships are not. And in a few years you learn it wasn’t doctrine anyway, it was personalities.” He deserved an honorary doctorate for that thesis. We talk a lot about the issues people scrap about.                                                           We cannot deny that personality is the provocateur. And the church mirrors the absence of sanity and maturity in politics, conspiracy rumors, and social        media. [David Augsburger]


Mother Teresa, 20th century
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

C.S. Lewis, 20th century
I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.

Henry Ward Beecher, 19th century
The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy.

Helen Keller, 20th century
Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.

SUNDAY – Philippians 4.10-13

10-13 I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.   [MESSAGE]


As a person who lately has had my share of worries, and in light of this week's text about joy and anxiety, I've especially appreciated the candor of Oliver's poem "I Worried," from her book "Swan." Like all great poets, she's able to describe what we ourselves experience.


I worried a lot. Will the gardens grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not, how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.
           [Mary Oliver]