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Fullness of Joy

by Angie Shannon

Sometimes something strikes me as funny and I dissolve into a puddle of giggles, snorts, and all the sounds associated with a belly laugh that comes from a deep place. I get a fabulous abdominal workout and my heart rate gets going. Enthusiastically, those around me join in the fun and laugh too even though they may not know why. Ever notice that laughter is contagious? This is the kind of laughter that we reminisce about, even though we may have long forgotten what prompted it.

Indulge my inner Gus Portokalos, the father in the movie My Big Greek Fat Wedding and allow me to teach a little Greek. Enthusiasm defined comes from the Greek from enthous. Loosely, this means God within, inspired or possessed by God. We witness enthusiasm in all walks of our lives. If you want to see unbridled displays of enthusiasm, just go to a sporting event.

Unabashedly, people get excited about sporting events, a shoe sale, a hobby, music, and even finding loose change in a pocket or the bottom of a purse. But come Sunday morning we become deafeningly silent. We have been taught that it is somehow irreverent to express enthusiasm and joy. Perhaps it was our upbringing. I grew up in a time when there were no cry rooms in church. Who needed them? It was a time when children were seen and not heard. One withering glance from the “church lady” was usually enough to press us children in respectful silence. We gathered quickly that effusive displays of enthusiasm were inappropriate and reserved for other arenas in our lives, not in worship. So we yelled at sporting events and concerts.

The Rev. Angie Shannon, child of God, is an ELCA pastor and Benedictine oblate.

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