When I was in high school, my brother Erick was stationed in Saudi Arabia as part of his active duty in the air force. This was at a time when they didn’t have access to computers and every two weeks he was allowed one phone call on some very staticky lines to talk to our parents for 15 minutes. We went a year without seeing or really hearing from my brother and he was in some very hostile territory and in charge of transporting bombs from base to base. We were all very nervous. I missed my big brother terribly in that time. I always felt safe and taken care with him.
Well, at the end of his year he was home again and this time for good. His active duty gave him an early out of the military. I remember going to pick him up at the airport and seeing him walk off the plane. This was back when you could meet your family at the air terminal. I remember running up to him and giving him the biggest hug I had ever given him. He was home and safe. I had never experienced such joy in my life. The whole family went to meet him and I remember not wanting to go to bed that night because I wanted to stay up listening to all his new stories. I didn’t want the moment to ever end.
Joy, it is a form of rejoicing, my family gave thanks to God the day that my brother came home. We gave thanks that he had come home for what seemed like for good. My parents no longer had to worry about their oldest child. My brother Jason and I we could talk to our brother get his advice and had a friend to talk to and hang out with. It was a day to give thanks for. It was a joyous day. Sometimes God brings us gifts. Sometimes we are allowed the opportunity to see God’s hand in our lives and to feel his joy.
Sometimes we can feel and know that the Lord has filled our cups and the cup of our faith has overflowed with his love and care. It is times like this that we need to hold on to. To cherish and to remember because there will also be those days when we really need to feel his presence, his joy. There will those days when it is hard to sing our praises to his name because we can’t feel his presence or we are feeling the pain that comes with this life. The joyous moments will fill us and we should cherish those moments and carry that joy with us where ever we go.
Our scriptures for this morning from the second book of Samuel really deal with this joy. David was singing for joy, dancing and celebrating for all that the Lord had done for him and for his people. He offered up many sacrifices to the Lord to ensure that not only the people of Israel recognized that he had been blessed but to show gratitude towards God and to engrave those moments upon his memory in the hopes that his joy and love might last forever. He hoped that the memory of those moments would be strong enough to remind him of God’s faithfulness when life brought about challenges.
So often we pray to God when life’s challenges mount up but forget to lift our voices in those moments of great joy and celebration. Joy and celebration is a form of thanksgiving for God’s blessings in those moments. We are blessed. We each are. We each have those days that just can’t seem to get any better, days when you just know that God’s hand has been at work. Days where we have been given a rest, a moment of peace.
In 1999, when my brother got off that plane I got one of my first glimpses of just how deep and healing those moments can be. Life has certainly posed me with challenges since then and I expect that those challenges will continue to come. But I know that whatever challenges and struggles I meet. They cannot overcome the work of the Lord in my life because since that moment I have known that God has blessed me and my loved ones. He will keep me close to him no matter how I may struggle, no matter how I may cry and mourn from time to time.
I am reminded that my soul is like a cup of faith. The Lord will fill it when it needs to be filled and life will use what is in that cup. But I believe and trust that the Lord is carrying me through this world, through all of my experiences and every moment of my life is meant to be used for something. Joy for the building of faith and for reminding me that I am watched over, sorrow to build my character and strength and to remind me to cherish and appreciate the world around me, and love to remind me that I do not travel this life alone. I was once told by a mentor that he could see God at work in my life and that all my experiences were being used to shape who I was going to be. My cup overflows, I am loved, I am valued, and I am needed by my Lord and for this I give praise.
Do you see God at work in your lives? Can you feel his presence and the touch of his hand upon your hearts? Is there a moment, a day, a week or a month when you knew that God was blessing you and your family? David knew it when he saw it. I experienced it and was aware of it for the first time in that airport. When did this happen for you? As you go forth into another week, we are being challenged to sit down and remember a time when you felt this joy, the blessings of the Lord and write it down. I challenge you to write about those moments in detail or to share the details of it with a friend or family member, relive those moments. Feel the joy and give thanks and show God your continued gratitude for his presence. Allow for the memories to strengthen you, to guide you, and to fill your souls with faith. This morning we read about joy and gratitude and we are being challenged to feel the healing and wholeness that comes when we feel joy and when we give thanks to our Lord. So I leave you with the words of our scriptures, “David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals”. Be like David and let your souls sing in your joy.
 2 Samuel 6: 5, NRSV.
(Sermon based on 2 Samuel).