Where Is the Cheerfulness?
Have we crossed the threshold into permanent seriousness? Has something from our current culture infected the church with chronic pessimism? After several conversations with friends, both in ministry and laypersons, I note what is missing: cheer. Last week in my sermon I mentioned as an aside that any attempt at being hopeful today is seen as bad form, inappropriate or insensitive. What has replaced it is constant concern and seriousness.
Edwin Friedman, rabbi and therapist, premised that healthy people practice "non-anxious presence" while unhealthy people cannot stop being constantly serious. Friedman talked about the continual seriousness of reptiles, who do just a few things very well: eat, sleep and reproduce....but they do not play like mammals do. Reptiles are serious beasts. They are always alert for danger and ready to eat any food that comes along.
The economy, politics, society, culture our families are all very important and face huge challenges. Cheerful people are not unaware of the challenges (and the seriousness) but they are also aware of hope, resources, God's sovereignty, resurrection power, love, forgiveness, and grace.
Smile at someone today. Tell a really dumb joke. Sing a song out loud. Give someone a hug for no big reason. Eat chocolate!