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I recently received our new United Church of Christ calendar.  On the cover was the passage from Psalm 46:4, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”  MAKE GLAD!  In mid-July Adele and I took a vacation to Denver, Colorado to visit our youngest daughter, Leah, who is doing an internship there.  We were blessed to have Alex (our oldest daughter) and both of their boyfriends join us as well.  One of the “adventures” that was planned for us was the opportunity to go white water rafting (one of things on both Adele’s and my bucket list).  Our family has spent a lot of time canoeing (especially on the Current River in Missouri) with “minor rapids” along the way, but we never experienced rapids and the rush of water like we did in Colorado.   I have to admit, I started the day with some trepidation! :-)  After the 3rd “safety” lecture, I figured they were serious about the dangers of doing such a thing.  The other thing they emphasized is that the raft had to work in concert/together.  If the 6 of us did not cooperate with the instructions of our guide with our rowing we could end up on the rocks or capsized!  … but none-the-less…. into the raft and water we went.  We started slowly from the shore, but as soon as we made the first bend in the river we faced our white water challenge!  And it was AWESOME!  The joy, laughter, Adele yelling in my ear, and thrill of the water ride made us all filled with gladness.  We made it!

As I reflect on our journeys, this passage from Psalm 46 speaks to us all.  We are all on the same river of life, but many different streams/tributaries/situations flow into our river.  Some of our river-ways are smooth, but we too can turn a corner and face rapids along the way.   Sometimes our river streams push us to new ways and directions, some speed up our trip, some cause us to pull over and rest.  Sometimes we are pushed towards the rushing waters and rocks… but when we follow our guide, and paddle together, we find a way to maneuver through the rough places together.  At the end of each “joy-filled” rush of rapids, we would all raise our paddles and do a paddle high-five! And then let out a BIG YELL of gladness and celebration!  We made it through another set of rapids, and by working together we didn’t lose anyone or capsize!  A good day. :-) 

Here at Peace United Church of Christ, we do a great job of working together on our journey… but sometimes I wonder if we forget/neglect to really share the celebration of our ride together?  Sometimes I wonder if we forget/neglect to really give thanks for God’s work in our lives – for God’s work in ministry as we continue to reach out as a safe and inclusive church living God’s radical message – for God maneuvering us through the waters.  I hope and pray that we will find a way to more greatly engage, celebrate, give thanks, be filled with exhilarating joy, and MAKE GLAD the blessings we receive when we work together for advancing God’s presence and love in our community.  I don’t know… if I were you I would be on the look-out for a “high-five” celebration coming your way as we thank God for calling us together as God’s people.  MAKE GLAD the city of God!


Pastor Paul