June 15, 2020

Isaiah 61:1a,3b

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor… to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning.


Jesus delights to bring an “oil of gladness” into this world, lifting the darkness of mourning and despair in our lives. Do you ever likewise bring an “oil of gladness” to others in your life? I remember the day I learned how easy that is, if I will only choose to do so.  

When I was a very young Christian, walking down the street in my college town, I once noticed an old lady creeping my direction. Our sermon this week dealt with our discontent, with things “not being the way they are supposed to be,” and this old lady appeared to be just that: not what she was created to be. She shuffled slowly along the sidewalk, step by step, a cane keeping her upright. Her back was badly stooped, and whatever glimpses I could catch of her face looked grimaced, discontent and unhappy. And in a matter of seconds I was about to blow right by her, say nothing and likely never see her again.

It must have been the prompting of the Holy Spirit when I felt a sudden and gentle urge to “Go on, greet her warmly!” I was in a pretty good mood and nobody else was around, so I decided, why not? What’s the worst that can happen? 

“Well, a big hello and good morning to you on this fine day, ma’am!” I blurted out. The old woman stopped cold in her tracks. Wow, I wondered. Did that sound dumb? Was I too over the top, too friendly? Did I just make her mad somehow—or worse, did I totally just creep her out?

Then that old woman did the very last thing I expected: She raised her eyes, and her face broke into the biggest, most joyful, most glorious smile I’ve ever seen. “Well, good morning to you too, young man!” she managed to say. And we both went on our way.

I’ve never forgotten that smile. I still think of it when I find myself hesitant to greet others or engage in a simple, friendly interaction, and I think of it when others bring joy to me. We all have opportunities every day to shine a little of God’s light into others’ lives, even if it’s just a sincere hello or a friendly smile.

Who might you bring a little “oil of gladness” to today?

In the same way, let your light shine before others… (Matthew 5:16a)

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