Real joy happens
“You’ll always find someone who wants to hold a baby.”
I didn’t experience disbelief when a colleague shared this with me, but I did wonder.
It’s true that babies are little, cute, and a tiny bit adorable. They can also be messy. Slobber on your shoulder is one thing. Spit up is something else.
But my colleague was insistent. “Yes. Always. Someone will always want to hold your child.”
I ask myself the following questions each time my baby and I make our way across the parking lot into the music room for choir practice at the church. What is something goes wrong? Are babies really welcome? What if there is spit up, a disruption, or, who knows, maybe an alto or soprano is allergic to babies? Maybe all altos and sopranos are allergic to babies?”
The sound of my singing has soothed my now twelve-month-old since the trauma of being in an entirely different world hit him hard the week he arrived in late August of last year. I remember how he would scream at bedtime at the shock of being in an entirely different world. On the front porch, I sang and sang to soothe my love, my baby.
So, yes, music—specifically singing—has always been a joy to him.
And yes, the choir has always welcomed him.
I share this because the title of this column is true. Real joy happens. This past choir practice was particularly joyful.
It turns out not a single alto or soprano is allergic to a baby, at least not in the choir at First Congregational-UCC in Harford. That’s not to say that tears have not been shed, but the tears are joyful, and they have been mine.
Despite what some could say about the number of children I have through adoption, these little ones in my world didn’t just happen. It wasn’t easy. Years of trying for children left deep hurt and valleys of pain. At a particularly low year in the adoption process, the choir rehearsed a song about blessing children when my hopes kept getting dashed.
So to hold a baby in the music room? To sing with amazing, dedicated musicians who know where I have been and have walked with me? I will say it’s more than beautiful. It is joyful.
One soprano who watches the baby while I teach my Sunday morning Sunday school class. She had shed tears earlier. At noontime that Tuesday, we held her mother’s funeral in the sanctuary. I honestly didn’t think she’d come to rehearsal that night. Her mom’s service was six hours earlier.
There she was.
She needed to see—and hold—that baby.
Then there’s my friend and fellow brother in Christ. He is a bass. We sit in a circle when we sing these days. He was directly across from my baby and me when we sang that night. Twice during this rehearsal, this dad himself held or entertained the little one.
Another soprano who can write her own stories that include valleys of pain held the baby for a time. The alto sitting beside her also walks through her own valleys of pain. She found the baby a toy tambourine.
Joy isn’t specific to a choir in Harford. Joy is what we can all find, share, and even sing about. This is revealed in Acts 2:42-47, one of the lectionary texts from this past Sunday, April 30. These verses are called “the believers form a community.”
Believers do form communities. We bond with Christ and each other. I have shared just one example of how closely-knit and wonderfully peaceful believers can be when together. That choir room that night held and shared the spirit of joy!
There are literally millions of other specific examples of such joy in congregations around the world today. Luke, the author of Acts, writes what happens in Christ-centered communities. “And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved (verses 44-47. NLT).”
Luke isn’t writing to this community. Luke is writing about this community. This community isn’t the gold standard of Christianity, a place too lofty to measure up to or obtain. This community, like all communities who gather with Christ by way of the Holy Spirit, experiences great joy and generosity.
We can all experience this great joy and generosity (with or without a baby in our arms).
But yes, oh yes, real joy with generosity does happen.
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