“Summer Worship”, 7/22/07, P8C

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Luke 10: 38-42

38 “Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

arilyn and I want to go back to New York and visit our churches there. Norman Vincent Peale’s old Marble Collegiate Church is a favorite of America. It’s a nice walk on Sunday Morning, but you could catch a cab. The aura of Dr. Peale is still there. Since most of their Pastors since including N.V.P., have been Methodist, Marble Collegiate uses our Methodist hymnals and the Sanctuary looks like home. The old building is serving well in its center city setting.

Most of us have read Peale’s books, pamphlets and sermons. My Dad was a big fan of  the “The Power of Positive Thinking” a movement founded during Peale’s 52 year tenure at Marble Collegiate. One feels positive just sitting in the Sanctuary where the  movement began. And the folks still seem empowered and positive.

We can best sum up Peale’s ideas by saying that, “Since we all assume that negative thinking will get us emotionally down, we can hope that positive thinking will get us up.” It is not that intellectually deep but it is a concept that we often forget.

I sometimes forget to keep looking up. I suppose Norman Vincent Peale did too. We get caught up in the whirlwinds of a busy life, adversity strikes, problems shake our foundations and we just forget to remember to Keep Looking Up to God.

Our sweet seven year old Candi used to remind us to be happy, back in the ‘80s when Bobby McFerrin recorded the very simple lyrics, “Don’t Worry Be Happy!” Candi sang the little song all the time. Here are a few lines:

“In every life we have some trouble…,
when we worry we make it double,

Don’t worry, be happy....,
When you worry your face will frown

And that will bring everybody down…,
Don’t worry, be happy

Another song that encourages us in trouble is, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Your Life.”  It has become so popular in Britain that it is called, “The Unofficial British National Anthem.”  At the end of British Football games the losers will stoically sing and whistle this happy tune in the face of loss. 

Jack Nicholson played the role of an almost insane, but a well published author in the motion picture, “As Good As It Gets.” There is a scene where he sings and whistles this tune, although out of character when falling in love with a waitress played by Holly Hunter.

The point is that we can learn to remember to look on the bright side. This is encouragement to those of us who get like Martha who was at times, all nerded out working in the kitchen, hoping that someone would recognize her hard work for the cause, and when she is overlooked again she bursts into the living room all mad and hollering at the very Son of God. And there sits Mary, perhaps Mary Magdalene, and she vents her frustration at the soon to be offered up, Savior of the world. Some folks seem to be able to keep some tragic drama going all the time. Even close family members and loyal friends will soon be worn out by it. And their relationships drift farther away.

Friendship is supposed to be a mutual relationship of caring and concern, but also some celebration and joy. The churches and its preachers need to focus more on how to live and get along with Jesus’ Joy, and then we can become helpers to keep others happy.

Charles Allen, Pastor of Atlanta’s Grace Church in the ‘60’s, wrote the book GOD’S PSYCHIATRY in which he underscored how God’s practical help is always available to guide, empower and protect us in our daily lives. However, our problem is that we forget to ask in prayer and leave our minds open in meditation so that we can hear God’s answers to our prayers. God does not change our situations as much as He changes us so that we can correct our life patterns.

My mother kept a little plaque on her wall, just above “Sallman’s Head of Christ,” which read in gold leaf, “KEEP LOOKING UP!”  Sometimes she would temporarily forget. We fail to look up to Jesus when trouble comes. But the Good News is that God’s Spirit will remind us that we have this great power source available for the asking. Almighty God, who created the mountains, glaciers and the oceans and ordered them to cycle in such a way that they would be in perfect harmony if it were not for our interference. The Almighty One wants to help us balance our lives in such a manner that we can live in the fullness of Christian Joy. As we keep looking up to God, in order to be able to look on the bright side of our lives. Then we can not worry, and be happy!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
“Summer Worship”, 7/22/07, P8C