I want to say two things about happiness. First, happiness is not about us. Even if we have the most fantastic presents in the entire universe, nobody’s going to want to open them on Christmas morning alone. If you are graduating, you’ll want some people around to thank and hug. It always takes two people at least, to make a wedding, no matter what kind of folks you’re talking about. And even a walk in the spring sunlight involves more than just us, because, look at all this beautiful spring sunlight!
On the other hand, happiness does not just have to do with other people, either. If you give somebody a Christmas present, you’re going to want to watch them open it, aren't you, and have them look up at you and smile. If you are graduating, you’re going to want to get some hugs too, right. In the moments after birth, you yearn to hold that baby.
Somewhere in the sacred space between us and them where God moves, that’s where happiness lies.
“Happy are those who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,” says the Psalm for today. “Their delight is in the law of the Lord.”
Torah, is the Hebrew word translated as the word “law.” I've said this before, I think. Torah means “law,” yes, and is indeed true that if we obey God’s laws, things will generally go better for us. For example, if we refrain from committing murder, but rather help our neighbor, as Luther calls us to do in his explanation of the ten commandments, then things will go better.
If we don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t lie, don’t hate ourselves and others because our neighbor has something and we don’t, life will go better.But Torah means so much more than just law. Torah is instruction, scripture, story, understanding of what God is like.
Happy are those who delight in meditating on this God who called light into existence, who breathes rain on the thirsty ground, who broke the hard chains that enslaved the people of Israel, breaks the chains that enslave us too, and leads, draws, prods, goads, drags, kicking and screaming, both us and Israel on that even harder journey of learning how to be truly free.
Happy are they who meditate on this God who is born in a manger, not a palace or even a hospital, but in a feed trough, who stands up to sin and oppression and is killed for it, and who on the third day rises, changing everything, this God who works and sweats and suffers and dies with us, and who gives birth to us again each day. Happy are they.
In the Gospel lesson for today, Jesus prays that we should be one, just as he and the father are one. I want to say two things about that. First, it’s not just about us. Being a Christian and coming to church is not just about what I like, what is familiar to me, what I agree with.
It’s also about all the other people in church, especially the ones we might not know, who are very different from us. It’s about the people outside these four walls, who might be called to become a part of our congregation, to whom God sends us, to listen to them and watch for where Jesus is moving in their lives, and become a part of Jesus walking with them.
It’s about people outside these four walls who will never join, who might never darken the door of any church, but who God sends to us so that we and they can be a part of God’s love moving in the world.
It’s about people we will never meet, who are affected by our attitudes, by how we spend and invest and save and give our money, by how we vote and by how we pray.
It’s about the creation, this bright earth that God has given into our hands, and for which God will hold us accountable.
It’s not about us.
On the other hand, being a community of faith, being one as God and Jesus are one, is not just about others either.God has touched us in this congregation in some very particular ways. First of all, we are Christian. We make some truth claims, that God created the world. We might not all know or agree exactly how, but God created;
God was born a human, Jesus, died an awful death and then rose, changing everything, and that God’s Holy Spirit works through us today.
We have some particular emphases in that tradition from our Lutheran roots, namely that we are justified by grace through faith as a gift. That is, we are valuable, important, worthwhile, beautiful not because of what we do, but rather because of what God does for us.
That we try to live good lives, do valuable, important, beautiful things, not in order to get close to God or be good people, but rather because God is close to us already, God makes us good each day already.
Lutherans take a particular view of the Bible. We don’t read it literally or figuratively, but look in the bible for answers about who God is, who we are, and who Jesus is.
Finally, there are some cool things about this congregation. We have some really nice songs. We have the gift of several people who have different physical and mental abilities than most of the rest of us, and we have a gift for making people feel welcome. These are good things.
Being one as Jesus prays for us to be, is not just about us, but it’s not just about others either.
Here is what I wish for our young folks being confirmed today, that they and all of us might live in that holy space where it’s not it’s not all about you, and it’s not all about everybody else, either. Live in that holy space between us and others where God moves, where happiness lives.