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       Sermons | Passionate worship

      This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Feb. 10, 2019 | Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Spark Joy
      Romans 14:17

       S OMEBODY SUGGESTED Lisa buy the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

      She did and got in a throw-out-everything-not-tied-down mood. So we spent the days from Christmas through New Year’s getting rid of stuff while making numerous trips to the store for storage containers for the stuff we were going to keep.

      This isn’t just at our house. Marie Kondo has been on the Today Show; she recently cleaned late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s office. Maybe you’ve seen her on one of those shows or perhaps read her book. Anecdotal evidence indicates that thrift shops have seen a great uptick in donations, especially since Netflix started streaming Marie Kondo’s “tidying up” show last month.

      She has this catch phrase: “Spark joy.” You are to pick up every item, ask the question, “Does this spark joy?” If not, get rid of it. Of course, the Internet has exploded with Marie Kondo “spark joy” jokes.

      ■ “I threw out my husband because he doesn’t spark joy.”
      ■ “I threw out everything that didn’t spark joy — the electric bill, the vacuum, my dirty laundry.”
      ■ “After following the KonMari method, the only thing I have that sparks joy is my dog.”

       † † † 

      Marie Kondo

      THERE ARE SEVERAL RITUALS she suggests that I find interesting — like thanking your clothes for their service before you discard them. A real sense of gratitude.

      But it is her question that intrigues me. Does it spark joy?

      What brings us joy? We Americans are the richest and yet unhappiest people of all time. We know, whether or not we admit it or not, stuff does not bring us joy, but we accumulate more and more kitchen accessories, tools, sports equipment, shoes, books, we don’t use or really want — earthly possessions that take up space; purchases that demand upkeep and protection; and belongings that tether our hearts so much that we question whether they belong to us or we to them.

       † † † 

      MARIE KONDO WANTS US to say goodbye to things we don’t need, so we can gratefully have room for what sparks joy. Deep down we know that even the most immaculately folded shirt cannot ultimately spark lasting joy. Our most beloved and meaningful trinkets don’t really spark lasting joy.

      Marie Kondo — through her book, her Netflix series — inspires people to let go of tangible things in pursuit of joy. I did it. Cleaned my closet. Decluttered drawers. Reorganized the kitchen. Now I’m tackling my church office — discarding books that are out of date.

      I cannot deny that my heart feels lighter, knowing I have breathing room in my closets and drawers. But if I or you or we think that is the end of the process, we are mistaken. For ultimately, any happiness this brings is fleeting.

       † † † 

      WHAT SPARKS JOY? Christ sparks lasting joy. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

      When we are rooted in Christ, our abundance rests not in how much or little we own, but in who owns us. It’s then we are closest to the kingdom of God.

      What sparks joy? Jesus sparks joy. But the joy that Jesus promises is not happiness that comes from pleasure or from a closet filled with clothes or a closet emptied. It is only the joy of Jesus that is “down in our hearts to stay.”

      Jesus sparks joy. Joy is our heart’s awareness of God’s never-ending, never-tiring, passionate love for each and every one of us exactly how we are right now. Warts and all. Mistakes and all. Sins and all.

       † † † 

      WHAT SPARKS LASTING JOY is knowing that there is nothing that we can say or not say, believe or not believe, do or not do, that will cause God to love us even one notch less. And our joy is somehow also our deep and passionate longing for God in return.

      Jesus sparks joy.

      We need to remember that because when we forget that Jesus sparks joy, we are prone to accept cheap substitutes. We turn to:

      ■ money, power, or prestige.
      ■ sex and porn, alcohol and drugs, or food to try fill the hole that is left when we forget about joy of Jesus.

      But we know that none of these things brings us joy. The only thing that can satisfy is the joy that Jesus promises. The joy that is ours when are hearts are aware that we are the Father’s beloved children, without condition or exception.

      Jesus sparks joy.

       † † † 

      HERE’S YOUR homework assignment: Take the time to declutter your lives with what doesn’t spark joy down in your hearts to stay.

      Do it today.

      Joy is not optional. Joy is not a nice-to-have-when-I-have-time-for-it.

      Joy is essential. Joy is essential to our individual humanity, and joy is essential to our identity as Jesus’ church.

      When Jesus sparks joy, our hearts are set on fire by the Holy Spirit. And the kingdom of God is at hand.

      — Keith Cardwell   

      «Jesus sparks joy. Joy is our heart’s awareness
      of God’s never-ending, never-tiring, passionate love
      for each and every one of us exactly how we are right now.
      Warts and all. Mistakes and all. Sins and all.»

      Scripture for the day

      Romans 14:17
      Holy Bible, New International Version

      17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

      — The Word of God for the people of God.
      — Thanks be to God.

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      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367


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