“Dancing Into Joy!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Today is the Sunday after Easter. As
I said at the beginning of the service, this week is often called ‘Holy Humor
Sunday.’ So, I offer you another joke!
It was Sunday morning, and the
faithful were gathered for worship. The service was beautiful, and just as they
were about to celebrate communion, Satan himself appeared in the sanctuary!
The women screamed! The children
screamed! The men screamed! Even the pastor screamed! They ran out of the
church with the Devil running behind them. His eyes flashed with flames as he
laughed at the terrified people running down the street.
Satan thought that he would add to
his fun and decided to go back into the sanctuary and devour the sacred communion
bread. As he turned to walk in, he saw one man still sitting in the pew. Satan
snuck up behand that man then jumped in front of him with a terrifying roar.
The man just looked at Satan.
Satan glowered at the man. “Do you
not realize who I am?!”
The replied, “Oh, I know exactly who
Satan: “And you are not afraid of
The man: “Afraid? Nah, not one bit.
I been married to your sister for forty years, and quite frankly, you ain’t
half as scary as she is!!”
This Sunday is the week that preachers
often offer messages based upon the very familiar story of Doubting Thomas.
But, as you heard, that was not the scripture passage that I read this morning.
That passage, the passage in which
Thomas is featured, takes place immediately after Easter Sunday. It begins with
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the
disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear …” (John 20:19)
the evening of the first day … the disciples were locked away because of their
fear. I decided that I did not want to talk about fear this morning, or doubt.
This day is not about being locked away. It is not about Jesus needing to prove
is about joy!
we have noted in the past, the Psalms are songs of worship. The various psalms
were “written” for specific needs and purposes. There are travelling psalms,
and psalms of mourning, and psalms of ascent. Psalm 100 is a liturgical psalm.
It is a doxology. In fact, the hymn tune that typically accompanies our
doxology … The OLD 100th … is named for this psalm.
psalm begins with the worshiper’s entrance into the Temple. The faithful are to
turn and face the nations and proclaim their love and praise for Yahweh God.
They are to tell the world! Tell the friend and the enemy, tell the neighbor
and the oppressor that God is great!
the psalm goes on to tell WHY God is so great. God is good and faithful. God
has done wonderful things for all of humanity. All of humanity should sing
psalm refers to God’s steadfast Presence. The word for “Presence” means to
“recognize one’s face.” It implies intimacy. It implies that we are known by
God. It is about being in relationship. God is not distant and aloof. God is
present. God knows us. God recognizes our face. God cares about us and what
happens to us.
is why we sing God’s praise. Our songs of praise and thanksgiving should
reflect God’s goodness!
as in the doxology that we sing every Sunday morning, this doxology is about
offering thanksgiving. The ancient word rendered as “thanksgiving” can
designate an actual gift or sacrifice, or it can denote liturgical expressions
of gratitude that served as a substitute for sacrifice.
the psalm is saying is that our worship can be our offering. Our worship is our
doxology, our thanksgiving. Our worship is our gift to God!
last word analysis. The word for worship that we read in verse two, means to
orient one’s whole life and existence to God and to serve God.
“worship” then, is to be so much more than what happens in this room on Sunday
morning. Our worship is meant to be reflected in the way that we live, the way
that we move through the world, the way that we treat one another, the ways
that we love and serve one another.
know that when we gather here on Sunday mornings we can feel the joy. We can
feel the energy of this gathering of people. We can feel the Holy Spirit moving
in us and among us. That is a wonderful thing! I have to tell you that I feel
so energized during our worship services and that energy stays with me when I
leave here on Sunday afternoon.
challenge for us is to take that joy, to take that energy, to take that Spirit
… out there!
do we experience joy? Then … how do we carry the joy forth?
do we share joy? How do we create joy for others?
occurred to me as I was preparing to write this message, that we have a very
important role to play in the world. When I thought about the passage from John
that referred to Doubting Thomas, it struck me that there are people that are still
hidden away in fear. But the sad thing is that they are hiding from US! They
are hiding from the church!
first disciples were locked away in that room for fear. They were terrified of
the Temple officials. They were terrified of the Romans. They were terrified of
what might happen to them.
are people in the world that are terrified of us. We are the “Romans.” We are
the “Temple authorities.” The church … and by that, I mean the church at large
… the corporate church with a big ‘C’ … terrifies people today.
than being a source of hope, peace, joy and love, the Church has become a
source of pain and fear. The Church has become a source of judgment, condemnation,
rejection, and persecution. The Church … supposedly claiming to follow the One
who ate with ‘sinners,’ and who welcomed the outcast, and who preached that we
are to care for ‘the least of these’ … has become the body that rejects them.
Even worse, they have become a source of vilification and hatred.
last week, someone contacted us about attending our Easter worship service. They
contacted us because they wanted to know if a same sex couple would be welcome
here. It saddens me that they felt the need to ask. But they knew that there
are plenty of churches out there that would not welcome them.
is why it is so important that we stand at the gates and tell the world that
God is great, and God is good. It is important that we tell those who love us
as well as those who would hate us that God is love, and God is peace, and God
(Note: I inserted three pieces of paper in the
worship bulletins. One had an image of a butterfly, another had an image of a
dancer, and the third had an image of the church’s steeple.)
is where those little pieces of paper in your bulletin come into play. Those of
you in our virtual congregation can participate as well. You may not have the
fancy pieces of paper, but you can consider the questions.
The Dancer … On the piece of paper with the dancer, consider something
that fills your life with joy? Not something passing or temporary, but rather
something that gives you deep and abiding joy?
The Butterfly … Have you heard of the ‘Butterfly Effect’? That
is the principle that a butterfly’s wing moving causes a movement in the air
around it. Then that air moves the air around it, and so on, and so on … until
the movement from that butterfly’s wing travels around the world.
then, let us be the butterfly wings. On the butterfly sheet, consider something
that you can do … as individuals … to offer joy to another person? How can we
share joy, or create joy?
… one small ripple can build and build and build until it becomes a great and
Finally, the Steeple … What can the church as a gathered community do
to offer joy? Whether you are a member of this church family, or a visitor you
likely have some thoughts on the matter. What can this church … or the wider
church … do to create and offer joy?
can keep the dancers and the butterflies for yourselves. Hang them on your
refrigerators or your bedroom mirrors. Look at them often to remind you of your
calling. We are to live as an act of worship. We are to live as praise to God.
Our very lives should shout to the world, “God is Great!”
slips of paper with the steeple them … I ask you to leave them with us. We want
your ideas; we want your heartfelt dreams. We want to make certain that
everyone who comes to this place experiences the love and joy of God. For those
of you online, please leave your dreams on the live chat thread. We want to hear
from you too.
I have one final assignment for you. As you stand to sing this next hymn, look
around. Look for someone that you have never met, or someone that you do not
know very well. Step outside of your comfort zone. Take a risk. Speak to them
and introduce yourself. I even give you permission to do it during the hymn!
Or, seek them out after the service and join them for refreshments in
is a community based upon loving relationships. It is about presence, about
recognizing each other’s faces.
is the Easter season. It is the season of joy! May our lives be an expression
of our joy! May our lives offer praise and thanks to God! And may we be “noisy”
in our worship!
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771