This week we consider sources of happiness.

To prepare, stop the world around you.

Breathe, be still, and feel God’s presence.

Invite God’s calm.

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Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said:

“Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours.

Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied.

Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.”

Luke 6:20-23

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I’ve endured my share of sermons. For the most part, I’ve evolved from a wiggling, fidgety clock-watcher, to a fairly engaged listener (not that my mind doesn’t sometimes wander!). These days, the preacher really gets my attention when she says something unexpected. The more off the wall, the more I sit up and get focused.

Can you picture the apostles and others hearing Jesus’ sermon from this passage? I can imagine the whispers, “Did he say we’re happy if we’re poor, hungry, and weeping?” “Surely I misunderstood the part about being happy if others hate us!” While the reference to “happiness” must have appealed to the crowd, the ties to trials were off-putting at best.

What’s the point? Could Jesus be identifying a narrow path of discipleship – one that is costly, but ultimately worth it? Too often, we seek paths of least resistance. I know when it comes to my faith walk, I’ve taken the wide path more often than not.

I bet you’ll have some path choices today. It’s your call: narrow or wide?

Bill Ogletree

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God, lead me through this day. Help me find happiness in a narrow path even when it is costly. Amen.

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The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, wrote:

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” (in Love and Living, 1965)

Go now and find happiness and God’s love in the community of others.

Bill Ogletree

Billy T. Ogletree is a professor at Western Carolina University. He is forever grateful for the love of his wife and two adult children and appreciates little more than living in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. Dr. Ogletree is the author of the 2018 book Mean Christianity: Finding Our Way Back to Christ’s Likeness, available through Wipf and Stock, Amazon, Kindle, and Audible.

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Ken Medema

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