Celebration and sorrow. Two keys to a life well lived

There’s an interesting episode in the Gospels where a woman brings a jar of expensive perfume, cracks it open and pours it upon Jesus. His followers, who have caught his concern for those living in poverty, grow indignant, protesting to the woman that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to those who were struggling. Jesus stops them, telling them that this woman has done a beautiful thing for him.

The episode is a healthy reminder that as well as working for the healing of that which is broken in myself and our world, I also need to make space to celebrate that which is good.

In recent years I have embraced what is commonly referred to as “Kingdom theology”, the idea that God is at work in the world to heal that which is broken. To this I need to include the idea that God celebrates and enjoys that which is good. In other words, God reigns over the world by sustaining and enjoying that which is good and healing that which is broken, and if that is so then I participate in his reign when I do the same.

Psalm 104 tells of God’s care for the entire creation and has this wonderful expression, that God formed the whale to frolic in the ocean. A few verses later the Psalm writer declares that God will rejoice in his work. I got a taste of what God must feel a few months back when I was fishing offshore and two whales swam by. It was thrilling.

The antidote to the hedonistic culture in which we live is not to deny myself pleasure, but to enjoy the good world God has made, and the people, places, the creatures God has placed in it, in a spirit of thankfulness and worship,  at the same time that I remember these good things are to be shared, and that there are things that that are broken that God calls me to partner with him in healing. With God I want to be able to feel the sheer joys of the myriad of good and great things in life and the deep sorrows of those dark and broken places within myself and my world, and I want to make space to both celebrate and heal.

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