I have written before about my joy in the job I have as a coordinator of a marvelous program called “Side by Side”, where volunteers come for a full day and companion a person with dementia for the day program.  I see every time we meet what an amazing difference it makes for our participants and how richly it blesses us.

Study, Read, Book, Bible, Koran, TorahRecently I have added Bible Study to the list of things that I do in the program.  With the departure of one of the ministers in the church where I run this program the pool of people able to offer Bible Study has decreased.  So when we added a new volunteer who is amazing and was able to take over the Brain Gym duties from time to time it freed me up to lead Bible Study from time to time.

So this week I am running smack into the problem that the Bible Study leaders have been been complaining about with a good nature and some humor.  Making the theme of the day work in Bible Study.

The theme for tomorrow:  Popcorn.  It was challenging.  But this is what I came up with.  I hope it will bless the participants and volunteers tomorrow and I hope it will bless you as well.Food, Popcorn, Snack, Movie, Corn, Eat

So today is popcorn day.  And well, the Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about popcorn.  I expected that.  So I looked for Biblical references to maize, which is a cereal crop which includes corn.  Except that there was no corn in Biblical times. When used in the Bible maize is used to refer to any grain, but specifically wheat.

So that was no help.

Then I thought about my aunt who came to Canada for a visit from Holland.  It was summer and the corn was ripe and ready.  My mother bought a bunch and we prepared for a treat.  Except my aunt refused to eat it, because in Holland corn is pig food.

A few days later my mom made popcorn as a treat.  My aunt was fascinated at the whole process, and actually tasted some….And loved it.  She called it PLOFFITJES because of the sound it made while popping.  When she left Canada she filled her suitcase with as many bags of popcorn as she had room for.

Balls, Card, Holiday Background There was something about the joy she had in the discovery.  And with that joy came the desire, even the need to have more and more of the source of the joy.

Popcorn is like that, isn’t it.  We pop it and string it to make Christmas tree decorations.  Children look forward to popcorn as a treat.  No movie experience is complete without popcorn.  It can be rich, buttery and salty.  Or it can be coated in a sinfully delicious caramel.  No matter what, it is a joy and a delight.

I associate popcorn with joy.

Joy is a constant theme in Scripture.  Our joy is found in God.  Our joy is found in keeping God’s commandments.   Our joy is found in celebrating God’s goodness with others who love God.  We even sing about in many of our hymns  and songs… like the one which says

I have the joy joy joy joy down in my heart.  Down in my heart.  Down in my heart.  Down in my heart.  I have the joy joy joy joy down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay.

What does God’s word have to say about joy?

In Psalm 47 we read:
Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm.

God is king over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.

We sing praises to God, because to know him is our joy.  He is awesome and king over all the earth, and he chose our heritage for us.  A heritage of good things.  A heritage of blessings. A heritage of salvation and eternal life.  Surely our joy explodes from us like a popcorn kernel exploding from the pressure of heat and moisture.

Is it any wonder that we have a desire, even a need to be in God’s presence and to proclaim the joy we have in knowing him.  We cannot get enough of how great and good God is.  Our lives are a constant journey in which we are surprised again and again by the joy which God brings to us.  God’s ways are mysterious and delightful and amazing.

Smilies, Smiley, Emoticon, CartoonCan you imagine the shock, joy and delight of the first people to discover popcorn? Perhaps they were drying corn beside a fire, to put it into storage, when suddenly pop…..pop…..pop …pop.  White fluffy clouds of corn flying through the air and landing at their feet.  And the taste ….pure joy.

Pop.  Pop.  Pop …pop…. Pure joy.

When Isaiah prophesies about the coming of the Messiah, he describes it as a freedom from darkness and despair and an exultant entrance into joy.

We read this in Isaiah 9

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,

God has increased our joy.

Popcorn, Kernels, Food, Snack, Corn, PopJust like a handful of popcorn kernels poured into a little oil and heated will increase into a whole bowlful of fluffy goodness  God increases our joy.  This is what we are thankful for.  To know God is to know increasing joy.   Therefore we rejoice.

Joy joy joy joy…. Pop pop pop pop.

Lets pray together….(each line is to be read by a different person)

  1. Thank you God for bringing joy in the gift of Jesus.   Pop  pop  pop pop
  1. Thank you God for friends and family.  Pop  pop   pop pop
  1. Thank you God for the blessings of love and people who care for us.   Pop pop pop pop.
  1. Thank you God for giving us the gift of friends who fill our lives with joy.   Pop pop pop pop.
  1. Thank you God for walking with us every day of our lives.  Pop pop pop pop
  1. Joy joy joy joy.   Pop pop pop pop.  Amen