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Time for Methodists to dance

Phil Smith. Photo by Osker Lau
IS SIMPLY being happy too much to ask?

There are plenty of preachers who tell me it’s not enough, but that’s not the question.

Happiness is a big deal.

It’s the subject of innumerable clichés, jokes, books and grandmotherly pieces of advice.

When my career bores me, when my marriage is hard work, when I need one day off to myself, I don’t need professional
development, a perfect relationship or the adventure of a lifetime.

I’d be satisfied with simply being happy for while.

Happiness and its Causes was the name of a major international conference in Brisbane during June.

Forty speakers and over 2000 delegates tried to get their heads and hearts around the topic.

Speakers included the Dalai Lama, celebrity chefs, ABC radio announcers, a sex therapist, Courier-Mail writers, psychologists, musicians, and the author of The Happiness Diet from the Sydney Happiness Institute.

Christianity didn’t really rate a mention.

None of our clergy was considered to have anything to contribute, yet Uniting Church members were part of it through their day-to-day work.

Here’s a possibility: Christians don’t find happiness in their faith and fellowship that they can apply throughout their lives.

In some strange, disintegrated way, do we look for happiness in dance, music, and food, but never expect to find it in our worship?

Happy pursuits belong on Monday to Saturday, while serious godly things happen for an hour on Sunday inside our church buildings.

It’s the old joke about why Methodists didn’t dance!

For a way of life that supposedly frees us from guilt and shame, offers us grace and freedom and calls us to rejoice in a divine love whose depth and breadth and height we cannot measure, the way no longer seems to speak of joy to the  church or the wider community.

People are searching the one-liners of Oprah Winfrey for happiness.

Why isn’t the Word of God considered an option?

Philip Yancey once asked how the God who offers us the world in all its beauty has become known as a killjoy by the behaviour of Christians.

Jesus had lips that kissed and tasted wine, hands that healed and pulled in fish, and eyes that delighted in birds, flowers and children.

I know I must take up my cross to follow Jesus.

I also know that beyond the cross comes the resurrection.

I smile on Easter Sunday morning when someone says, “He is risen!”

It makes me happy to call back, “He is risen indeed!”

If you missed the Happiness and its Causes conference you didn’t really miss “the world’s most important forum on human happiness”.

That forum is your local community.

Your local church is part of that community.

Next time you worship, please bring a smile.

Photo : Phil Smith. Photo by Osker Lau