Thank-you God for Easter 2019!

by Pastor Tim White

What a Great Easter! I was deeply moved at every Easter service. I thought Pastor Linda had one of her best sermons at the beautiful Good Friday Service. What a great time for those committed to grow deeper in their love and appreciation of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. The Holy Saturday service with Dr. Marty Folsom, the Chancellor of Washington Seminary, was really a blessing. I just had to give him a hug after the service after he shared from the reality of his personal grief the profound meaning of a Silent Saturday. Millie Porter did a great job with the dinner following the Saturday night service. The song that Dr. Marty and Eliot wrote together was just beautiful. I did not get to attend Pastor Josh’s Sunrise Service, but I heard great things about this early morning experience and I just love Josh.

And then all the work that everyone put into our Easter Pageant was just blessed by God. The little girl that came up at 9:30am service with her parents on the front row touched my heart to see their emotions as she watched the Easter story with such wonder. And then all the kids at the 11am service; my grand-daughter Eva, my grandson Oscar and all the children that we all love so much were just being themselves. The little boy who decided to go back to mom because there might be a monster in the cave to the little girl who came up by herself in her beautiful dress for the final song - Oh Happy Day! Her mother was crying just watching the wonder on her little face and she shared with me how much it meant to her. Then I will never forget the little boy who laughed so hard at my joke that his mom had to come and get him to take him to the back. I love that boy and I hope he and his family come back. People really enjoyed Pastor David’s Easter Breakfast and polished it off by the time the 11am service started. Afterwards, Grace Graham brought in a gourmet Philippine buffet - and a lot of it. So, many new families stayed for lunch after the 11am service enjoying Grace’s gift of hospitality.

The Easter Egg Hunts were terrific! Pastor Josh did a great job sharing the Easter story with hundreds of children. The hunt in the pool was just packed and such a great experience. The hunt on the top of the hill was as good as we have ever experienced. Special thanks to Pastor Jackie for being the Lead Pastor on our Easter project. For Rhonda and her team, along with Eliot and his team, who put on a great musical extravaganza. For Pastor Linda for directing the Easter Pageant through all the challenges such as losing our projector right before it started. David Fox playing Jesus and leading an enthusiastic cast in the play. The shuttle drivers, greeters, hosts, food preparation team, and a huge children’s ministry team with Rosanna Fox and Krista Bleile leading the way. Pastor Michael worked so hard in setting up the Tomb with a great team helping him. Over a thousand people at Easter services is a great win for us at this time in the life of our church. And there were so many amazing new families with touching stories of faith who came for the first time to Washington Cathedral.

And then to top it all off - we did it! We raised the money and reached our pledge goal to allow us to continue to lease the amazing facilities that God has blessed us with and to be able to use it for the next year. This is the fastest we have ever completed a fund-raising campaign in the history of our church. I can’t tell you the burden that takes off my soul as I recognize the God of Miracles once again at work in the life of this dream to Build a Great Caring Network. I can’t think of a moment in the history of our church that we have been more blessed by the incredible, gracious, love of God. And I pray that you were blessed this Easter as well. 2019 is going to be an amazing year in all our lives!

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

We All Need Easter

by Pastor Tim White

Imagine you and your family worshiping in the beautiful Spirit Falls Sanctuary as you watch Jesus come out of the tomb. A tomb which is in front of a beautiful waterfall. Soul stirring music, great acting and special effects and a story told by an old pastor for children, encouraging them to ask world-shaking questions that will affect the rest of their lives. I am sharing this vision with you on Holy Week, 2019 - not as a Lead-Pastor but as a fellow-follower of Jesus Christ. This group of Christ followers includes a wide mosaic of people. Our brothers and sisters are Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox not to mention those who follow Christ but are included in the none (the non-affiliated with any religion).

Easter is everything to the Christ Follower

1 Corinthians 15 points out that this statement is at the heart of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are all fully human with broken hearts because of people we love who have passed on. We have our questions that need to be touched by a moment of faith. This is your moment – at the 9:30 am and 11:00 am Easter Services - and it is too important not to bring friends. What if Jesus were going to make an appearance, wouldn’t you feel like you needed to bring all your friends? Well this is the time to bring your friends because of the life-changing/world-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

David Fox is playing Jesus this year. I am so happy about what God is doing in and through David, Rosanna, Andres and Fernando Fox. They are all becoming more and more Christ-like every year. And know that you and your family will be touched by the re-enactment of the first Easter. The Choir and Praise Band will be at an all-time high. There will be Holy Communion served by Father Michael Fernandez at the close of each service. I call Pastor Michael Father not because he is one year older than I am but because he is proud of his Catholic roots and the fact that he was Altar Boy of the Year in the Archdiocese of Seattle. The drama team is full of young, exciting members of our church who have been working to improve our drama every year.

As always, there will be a delicious Easter Breakfast starting right after the 7:00 am Sunrise Service that our youth pastor Josh Zappone will be preaching at. The breakfast will last until the 11:00 am service starts. And afterwards, on top of the beautiful, grassy hill, there will be a giant Easter Egg Hunt with a Bounce House, a brief presentation of the Easter story and a large Easter Chicken posing for pictures with the kids.

Every church is born again at Easter and this has never been more true for Washington Cathedral. So, we need your help and prayers. And you need, like we all do, to have a great Easter experience.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Celebrate Jesus

by Pastor Tim White

We have been building up to Easter by studying the Book of Mark. Half of this Gospel is about the Passion of Christ. St. Mark was a teenage boy who followed Jesus, so he was not alive during the first Christmas. But he is mentioned repeatedly in the Book of Acts. First, as an assistant to Paul and then after he fell, he was picked up by Peter who knew something about grace, and the need to restore the fallen. He writes this earliest Gospel with the passion of a teenager. And we are investigating how learning the Passion of Jesus can impact the passion in our lives.

Do you have all the passion you want for life? How about for your family, your job, your contagious enjoyment of life--do you have all the passion you want? Well this Easter in our Church we are going to learn about becoming passionate followers of Jesus Christ. This week, I am looking at the believer’s authority because of the passion of Jesus. I call the message “Celebrate Jesus” and we are kicking off Holy Week with a great Palm Sunday service.

During this lead up to Easter we will be reaching out to the world with the Good News of Easter! We are going to be celebrating Jesus by observing with an incredible, Good Friday Service at 7:00 pm as Pastor Linda teaches us the meaning of the cross of Christ. Do you live under the authority of Jesus when you receive forgiveness or miraculously given forgiveness? It is so important to learn about the cross in becoming fully alive.

And then on Saturday Dr. Marty Folsom is leading a very creative service at 5:30 on Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday was observed by the early church and focused on the ‘in-between’ times. In between the cross and the resurrection. It is so important because grief is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, witnesses of God and eternity. All of us will spend some time when we are in that difficult moment where faith is required; when we don’t have the answers and we are in-between the cross and the resurrection. Special Guests: Scott and Hillary Burnett are going to be there to share musically and to help Marty deliver this message. There will be a dramatic example of the message with body painting by a young artist.

For the kids, at 4:00pm on Saturday, we are celebrating with an Easter Egg Hunt in the indoor pool. Pastor Josh is going to share the Easter story with this large community of children. And there will be Bounce House and happy fellowship as a community.

Early Easter morning we will celebrate Sunrise in the sanctuary in front of the waterfall and empty tomb. Our Youth Pastor Josh Zappone will be setting the table with a powerful message for those who want to fully celebrate the entire Easter Sunday. What a way to start Easter with the enthusiasm of a youthful service at 7:00 AM.

And finally, the Easter Pageant at 9:30 am. I am going to be telling the Easter Story to kids on stage, so they get a front row seat. And we have a Christ-inspired actor playing Jesus. When he speaks the words of Jesus it will be impossible to not be caught up in this grand story. For the rest of their lives these kids will be asking questions about Easter that will “rock the world.” The music will be awesome! I believe it will be the best Easter worship we have ever presented as a church!

Pastor David has prepared a delicious Easter Breakfast served from 8:00 to 11:00 am.

At 11:00am the second Pageant starts which will be packed with young families ready to not only enjoy the dramatic retelling of the story, but a fun Easter Egg Hunt and Carnival on top of our beautiful grassy hill at 12:30pm.

Can you tell I am excited for this Passion Week starting with Palm Sunday? Come and check us out - bring a friend. You will catch the passion for life.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

The Passion of Jesus

by Pastor Tim White

There are many people who I admire and respect for so many different reasons. One of those people is Ben Llanes. I love to follow him online. He loves his kids, he loves his wife, he loves his extended family and he loves nature which all flow from his love of God. Add to that the fact that he is a great photographer, his posts are so inspiring to me! The other day, after a very poetic post about nature, I had to tell him that he reminded me of John Muir. Not that I ever knew John Muir but this great naturalist and leader in our National Park movement was a person who was passionate about God’s Creation. John Muir would climb a tall tree just to ride out a windstorm so that he could fully enjoy the power of the storm. Ben is fully alive like John Muir. I hope every little girl in our church gets to grow up and marry someone so fully alive as Ben. I told Ben in his post, “I want to grow up and be just like you someday.”

In his passion for life, Ben is like Jesus. Jesus was full of passion for life. In fact, he said, I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. John 10:10. This week we are starting a new series about Jesus from the Gospel of Mark. I am calling it “The Passion of Jesus.” A healthy relationship with Jesus is where we get our passion to be alive - for the next day, the next friendship, the next adventure.

We love to watch solar events at night. Our neighbors built a patio and have had us over to watch such events. Of course, we get to enjoy it through the eyes of their two boys Benjamin and J.J. Such passion for life is contagious. The Book of Mark was written by a teenage disciple of Jesus called John Mark. It is full of action. He doesn’t even tell the Christmas story. Half of the Book is about the last week in the life of Jesus called The Passion.

Yes, we are passionate about this Easter! Who wouldn’t be? On Saturday, the 20th, an Easter Egg Hunt in the pool begins at 4:00pm for the kids from our church and surrounding neighborhood with Pastor Josh sharing the Easter story. Then maybe the most dramatic Easter Pageant and Worship Service that we have ever experienced will be held in Spirit Falls on Sunday at 9:30am and 11:00am. This year it will include an actor playing Jesus who helps me tell the story to the kids by sharing the actual words of Jesus in very dramatic fashion - the touching love of the crucifixion and what that has meant in changing people’s lives for over 2000 years. Then the breathtaking resurrection scene right there in front of our waterfall!

Other Holy Week Services will include Good Friday Service on April 19 at 7:00pm. We have a special guest speaker to lead us, not only in celebrating the cross, but in a very inspiring healing service. Pastor Linda Skinner is working with Rhonda on a service we will never forget. Saturday night at the 5:30pm Worship Service where our own, theologian in residence, Dr. Marty Folsom will share on Holy Saturday. Easter Sunday start the day with the Sunrise Service at 7:00am with Pastor Josh. And of course, Pastor David will be providing an incredible Easter Sunday Brunch at 8:00am. Finally, another Easter Egg Hunt for the kids on Sunday at 12:30pm on the beautiful grassy top of the hill. What a great time to share the passion of Jesus with the whole world!

Let’s start by catching the Passion of Jesus as we begin to study the Gospel of Mark this weekend. You are ALL invited.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Prayers that Rock the World

by Tim White

This weekend I will be concluding the series on the Book of James with the message on James Chapter 5 Prayers that Rock the World.

There was a blog on You tube which showed a debate between Biologist and Oxford Professor: Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the head of the Church of England. I like to read Richard Dawkins even though he believes that he is an atheist and has a lot of bitterness for those who believe in God. I have read Dawkins’ text book on Biology and it is quite good and of course I enjoyed learning his point of view from his book on the God Delusion and several other provocative books. To be fair I should point out that Dawkins recently suffered a stroke and by his own admission is not as fervent in belittling Christians since this event.

I did find it interesting that in a recent debate Dawkins begins by telling the Archbishop how it is his belief that in general Christians are just unintelligent people. He quotes a survey that the majority of Christians in England cannot even name the four gospels of the New Testament. After this tirade the Archbishop says, “that this is regrettable, but he believes that Christianity does have a lot of very intelligent people.” They are friends and have debated several times. So, the Archbishop asks Dawkins a question in response. He points out that Dawkins is an expert on Charles Darwin. The Archbishop goes on to return the question to his friend Dr. Dawkins by saying “could you tell me the complete title and subtitle of Darwin’s book on the Origin of the Species.” Dr. Dawkins says, “of course I could, I teach this in my college courses.” So, he begins … “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection…,” then he begins to stumble when trying to remember the subtitle which is “The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” Dawkins tries a couple of times and draws a blank turning red with embarrassment and he mutters, “God help me.” Which of course drew a big laugh because the atheist found himself praying in his debate about atheism.

I think almost everyone prays sometime, even if it is a slip and they find themselves saying “thank you God” and at the same time they are wondering if they believe in God. But there have been prayers that have rocked my life. One such prayer was when I prayed that God would forgive me of my sins and come into my life allowing me to be his follower the rest of my life. That prayer was life changing. When my Grandpa White used to pray, people in the congregation would say – “it is as if this old country pastor prayed heaven down to earth.” And many of you have witnessed or experienced prayers that been almost indescribable. Have you watched a father kneeling and praying with his kids as he tucks them into bed? Or have you seen a mother put her arms around one of her children and pray right from the heart that God would help this child? And many of us have watched Christians anoint someone with olive oil, laying hands on their shoulder, and being filled with Godly love as they ask for the Spirit of God to work in the life of this person who is in a desperate situation.

I think all of us have lots of questions about these prayers that ‘Rock the World’ and James Chapter 5 addresses that subject in such a way that we will all learn something and grow closer to the God who answers prayers. Please join me this weekend.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Miracle Weekend

by Pastor Tim White

When you experience a miracle, the whole world seems new.  Last weekend, we experienced one when Leon Patillo, former lead singer for Santana, visited us and it was an amazing, grace-filled weekend!  It was all in God’s timing. Leon had called and said he and his wife Renee were going to be in town for a YWAM Banquet and would we like to have them as guests.  I said, “yes”.  I was recovering from my surgery and I knew it was time to unload the burden that had been on the hearts of the Board of Directors and Finance Committee (of the loving family we call Washington Cathedral).  So, we planned a Banquet for the Saturday night service just one month ahead of Easter.  And without much publicity the Sanctuary was full of people who are what I call Keepers of the Dream. We shared the story of how we had to sell our property so that the church could pay off its debtors from our huge recreation building project.  Willows Preparatory School bought the property and graciously agreed to lease it back to us for 35 years.  We had been able to use Spirit Falls 24/7 for free and use any of the other buildings on campus during weekends for a fair rental cost.  The challenge was that when they complete the new High School in July, we would begin to pay $13,300 a month to continue that lease.  After much investigation we realized that this was the best deal for our church that we could expect. 

You can see that this was a defining moment for the dream of trying to build a great caring network.  Our community missions and overseas missions are at an all-time high.  And while we may no longer be a mega church renting Meydenbauer Center for special services with 6,000 people in attendance, we are still a very powerful and dynamic moderate-sized church with the continued dream of being a meta church and uniting with churches of other cultures for worship, family, missions, healing, etc. 

Well, if you were there, you saw why it was one of the most inspiring weekends of my life!  One third of the $100/month pledges needed above our normal tithes and offerings were pledged.  This is a new high for us.  We hope to have all pledges completed by July 1st and I believe we will. It breathed a breath of new life into our church.  What seemed impossible has become an incredible launching pad of possibilities. We call this campaign Rockin’ the Dream because we are putting this beautiful dream into Rock.  We realize that sometimes “our greatest life is just on the other side of our greatest fears.”  And just like the children of Israel, we are marching around the Walls of Jericho believing that this wall will come tumbling down. 

This week I am preaching on James Chapter 4.  If you know the Book, you know it is a great chapter in the Bible and I am calling my message - How to Build or Rebuild a Winning Team.  Every great life is represented by a great team and you are the one catalyst, along with God’s divine ways, to put your team together.   

Join us this weekend: Saturday at 5:30pm, Sunday at 9:30am and 11:00am, as we take another stride ahead in taking our church deeper into God’s Word and purposes. To build a church full of disciple-makers that will challenge the shallow faith across our land which has given Christianity a reputation that is causing such a large drop-out of the next generation.  We need you there and you need to be there - so let’s meet. 

Your friend for the rest of my life, 

Pastor Tim White

 

Words of Power

by Pastor Tim White

Words do have power. The long history of our understanding of words goes back to the beginning of language. And recently, there was a warranted theological protest in the orthodox Christian community about respecting the power of words over the God who works behind them. It was nicknamed ‘blab it and grab it’ and many Christians stepped back from this position because it induced a false sense of guilt for those who had bad things happen to them. Some Christians going overboard in this area felt like if they were just faith-filled enough, that nothing bad would ever happen to them. When someone came down with an illness it was thought that their own sin had caused it. This was a simple way to look at the world and gave people a sense of control when life seemed uncontrollable; but the whole truth of scripture exposed this overemphasis by having the Book of Job right in the middle of it. Job did nothing to bring all the tragedy in his life. And this most ancient book in Scripture depicted characters as friends of Job who tried to get him to admit it was all his fault. Thus, we have the nickname used today ‘Friends of Job’.

Most “complicated” truths are indeed complicated. There are incongruities that need to be resolved by what seems like contradictions. Here is the contradiction pointed out by the Book of James - Chapter 3. “The tongue is like the rudder of a ship. Be careful of what you say.” You can hurt others by your words, and the most vulnerable target is the people you love most. They are vulnerable because they care about what you say. So, being in a bad mood, you might say something you really don’t mean and leave a lasting scar on someone who you care most for in the world. When you say horrible things about yourself you can hurt yourself. You might be the biggest thing dragging yourself down. And God, in love, tells us be careful about what we say.

In ancient history we know that people all around the globe knew that saying a person’s name was very powerful. Words are powerful but so are actions. And God works deeper than just the present words we speak. He is not confined to the present but can heal the past and pave the way for our future. However, words do have power. “I can” is powerful. “We can” is even more powerful. “I am sorry, with God’s help I want to change.” “I trust you” and on the other side, “I don’t trust you,” can really hurt. “We are through” can be devastating, “you are hopeless” can scar someone for life. Words do have power and God teaches the importance of the balance of the power of our words and the power of His love.

So, join me this weekend as I come back to the pulpit for the first time since my knee surgery. We will grow deeper in our authentic relationship with God as we see the power of words in light of God’s mighty love. It could change your life - can you afford to miss it?

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

P.S. If you can, please join us for a wonderful banquet Saturday night at 5:30 with Special Guest: Leon Patillo who was the former lead-singer for the group Santana. I will be sharing about the challenge and dreams awaiting Washington Cathedral this year. I know everyone teases me, but this really is the most important night in the history of our church. It has been quite a party - quite an exciting adventure! Please join us as we tackle the next challenge. Leon will be at all the regular Sunday worship services at 9:30am and 11:00am, and I’ll be teaching about the Power of Words.

Faith Into Action

by Linda Skinner

One of the great joys of my life is serving others. When I was growing up, my mom modeled serving others. She taught Sunday School, sung in the choir at church, cooked meals for people who were sick or going through a tough time. I never once heard her complain about the time she was needed to help others. When she was at Washington Cathedral, she was a greeter, TLC Leader, sang in the choir, helped with the youth, helped with Singles, baked and cooked. I remember when Pastor Tim had to ask me to not let mom know when something was needed because to her it was her privilege to donate or help out.

As a teenager, my youth leader was adamant that if God gave you a gift, it was your duty, privilege and joy to use that gift to help others. She made sure that each one of us found our niche for serving and in her words “if you are in your niche, it will be a joy.” I think I was about 13 years old when I did my first outreach to a nursing home. I remember to this day my visits with Eleanor. She was in her 80’s and when you are 13 that seems ancient. She hadn’t seen her daughter for 5 years and she felt very alone and abandoned. At the time, I couldn’t imagine why her daughter stayed away. But Eleanor had serious dementia and she didn’t remember me from time to time, when I visited. I’m thinking her daughter was finding it hard to accept her mother’s illness. (We have so much better understanding of dementia now, but this was in 1961.)

When I visited Eleanor, she would light up. I read to her. Sometimes, Bible verses, sometimes the books she had by her bed, sometimes from magazines (her favorites were Time, Life and Reader’s Digest). We’d laugh together and she’d ask me about my dreams. But each time I showed up, we’d kind of cover the same territory as the previous time because she didn’t remember me. My youth leader asked how it was going, and I told her I was feeling like I wasn’t doing much because we went over the same things every time. She wasn’t making any progress. That was the day that I learned that service is not about getting something done, it is about connecting with people and showing them the love of Jesus.

That lesson has helped me so much in my ministry life. Sometimes when I’m serving, I get caught up in accomplishing the task – getting the job done. Then God brings Eleanor into my memory and I remember that the task is only the means to an even greater end. “Serving is connecting with people and showing them the love of Jesus.” Serving is putting your faith in a loving, caring God into action.

This weekend Pastor Michael continues in our series Move It exploring with us James 2. Join us for his message “Faith – Dead or Alive!” Learn the joys of putting your faith into action.

Blessings,

Pastor Linda

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith
but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
James 2:14

IMPACTFUL FAITH

by Pastor Linda Skinner

When I was about 8 years old, my mom had a heart attack and was in bed for about a month. It really scared me because she was my rock. Not only did she take care of me and love me, but she was always the picture of health and vitality. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t or wouldn’t do for me or anyone else. It frightened me to realize that she was not super-human but was vulnerable just like anyone else to illness and death.

The first day, my dad cooked breakfast and it was awful. He fried an egg, but it was so tough I couldn’t even cut it with a knife. You see, I was raised on a Chicken Ranch, so our eggs were always fresh. Dad turned the pan on the stove and walked out to the “egg house” and got an egg, came back inside, and broke it into the pan. It cooked in about 30 seconds and it was hard as shoe leather. (You can’t fast cook eggs, if you didn’t know that.) When I told him it was too tough, he said “just eat it, you’ll be fine.” I broke into tears. Mom called me into the bedroom and asked me what was wrong. I told her “that I was scared she was going to die, and we’d all starve to death.”

Of course, she got a good laugh at that one. But everything was a teaching time for my mom. So, she pulled out her Bible and read Matthew 6:25-27:

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stay away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Then she said something like – “Don’t be scared; your Heavenly Father will always be with you even if I’m not and he will make sure you don’t starve.” I don’t think I really understood what she was saying but I felt better. I don’t’ think it was her words as much as it was the strength of her faith. She had a faith that literally could move mountains and many times did. As a child, I don’t think I appreciated the strength of her faith, but it still impacted my life greatly.

When our faith becomes a central part of our life and literally “oozes” out of us, it has a profound impact on those around us.

This weekend Pastor David will be kicking off our new series, “Move It.” Using the Book of James, we will learn how genuine faith can only result in amazing works. Pastor David will lead us through the principles in James chapter 1.

Blessings,

Pastor Linda

Senseless Joy

By Pastor Josh Zappone

This weekend I have the pleasure of preaching in our Joy Series. The text I am speaking on is in Ecclesiastes. Why Ecclesiastes? May seem like an odd choice when speaking about joy!
I started preparing for this weekend of preaching with a lot of questions:

  • What is joy?

  • Where does it come from?

  • Why do I not feel it now?

  • Is joy an emotion or a mindset?

  • Can joy be stolen?

  • Can joy be given?

  • What is joy vs. hope?

  • Are Christians supposed to be happier than unbelievers?

Whenever there is a question that comes up (or a topic I dive into) I seem to encounter a flood of questions. Some questions that I have thought about before, some entirely new, and some that I have been avoiding. Maybe you are like this- you function on questions, looking for answers, and approach things like a puzzle to be solved.

Self-reflection is not my strongest skill, but this week I have been spending more time thinking about myself – thinking. . . . a lot of thoughts! One thing I realized in this process is that I tend to think that everything, ultimately, logically fits together and makes sense. Questions have answers. Even if those answers are not obtainable by me. Life makes sense - or at least I try to make life make sense and avoid things that I can’t make sense of.

Ecclesiastes is one of those books in the Bible that tells us, “Hey the world doesn’t make sense, and if you think about it, can really senselessly suck sometimes.”

It’s true. I admit defeat. The world/life/God cannot be rationally and logically figured out (probably).

While the teacher in Ecclesiastes gives us his seemingly pessimistic, everything-is-vanity worldview he also leaves us with a strange exhortation: eat, drink, and be joyful in your toil— for this is God’s gift to man. Joy! Joy in the midst of senselessness. Joy when everything fails you. Joy when there is no apparent reason for joy. JOY!

Joy is an emotion. Without emotion joy feels empty— it cannot be simplified and called a mindset. Joy is something we feel. It is not restricted to Christians- my atheist friend can have joy as well and we can even be joyful together! For many people though, joy is dependent on situations or circumstances.

There is something strange, mysterious, and elusive about joy in the Bible. The teacher in Ecclesiastes says everything is vanity/temporary/a vapor on the wind. Yet we are told to have joy... Have joy in the meaningless and the failing. Feel joy when life is senseless.

  • This is the elusiveness of joy that the Apostle Paul discovers in his suffering and loss
    (2 Corinthians 7, Colossians 1:24).

  • This is the joy Jesus tells his disciples about as he heads for death (John 16:22).

  • This is the joy James has in mind when he tells Jesus-followers to count all trials as joy
    (James 1:2).

  • This is the joy of all God’s people that Dr. Marty shared with us last week from Isaiah 35.

There is a joy that God gives through his Spirit that is not dependent on circumstances. When things are senseless or vanishing like a vapor on the wind, there is joy- a feeling of joy. Not just a grin and bear it, mental fortitude joy.

However, as the teacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us again, there is a time for everything, and joy would not be the wonderful, surprising, and senseless gift it is without moments of sorrow and mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). So, I am not going to pretend like I have joy figured out— a question I commonly ask is “Why do I not feel joy now?” Yet moments of joy still come. Joy comes in times of worship and prayer, in my relationships, and when I least expect it. Joy comes when the circumstances oppose it. Joy is a gift from God.

In Ecclesiastes, we are taught that joy can be found in the senseless, in the mundane, and in the toil of life. That’s why Ecclesiastes.

Join me this weekend at any of our three services, Saturday at 5:30 pm or Sunday at 9:30 or 11:00 am. If you can’t make it to church, join us on Facebook Live by going to the Washington Cathedral Facebook Page and attend the 11:00 am service remotely.