john davies
notes from a small curate

    Happiness is...

    Blue Coat School 26/2/2003

    Matthew 5.1-12

    Sometimes it's easy to identify the answer to the question, what's been the happiest moment of the past week for you? Easy for me to answer that this week, if perhaps controversial to some.

    My happiest moment came early on Saturday afternoon when, on the edge of my seat at Goodison Park, I saw the ball fly into the roof of the Southampton net, and undeserved-defeat turned into dramatic victory. [1]

    The happiness which sport can bring is often fleeting, so it's essential to savour it while it lasts.

    There are many kinds of happiness, of course, most of them far deeper and more significant than that provided by a footballer's boot. The happiness of genuine friendship, the deep joy of being in love, when you feel satisfied having completed a good piece of work, when the sun shines, when a child is born.

    This morning I want to suggest to you one thing about happiness. It is given. It's not earned, it's not bought, it is given to us.

    Think about the examples I've just used. I didn't create the happiness I felt on Saturday. I got that from Tomaz Radzinski. Friendship, love - these things bring happiness because of the way others act and feel towards us. When we're good at something, so often we call it a gift, or other people will say we're gifted, and it's that which is at the root of our happiness about our good work.

    Many people talk about the gift of a new-born baby; and next door in Holy Trinity each morning, with Anglicans worldwide, we begin our prayers by saying: ..we rejoice in the gift of this new day'.

    Happiness is given. If we believe that, then we can see some sense in the words of scripture we just heard, which Jesus preached to a mixed and massive hilltop crowd:
    Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

    There's not much happiness in hungering and thirsting for righteousness when all your efforts, all your protests, all your prayers, seem to be being ignored.

    But if you believe happiness is given, then you can believe in the possibility of being surprised. Gifts surprise us.

    And if you believe happiness is given, then you can believe in the possibility that something new will come. There's always a chance that sometime, probably when you least expect it, something new will come. The events of recent history bear this out. No-one predicted that in 1989 people from both sides of the Berlin Wall would be happily pulling it down; no-one foresaw that the nineties would see South African blacks queuing up in long, exuberant lines to cast their first votes ever.

    Happiness is surprising; happiness is on its way - because happiness is given. So much in life can be taken as a gift, if we remember to turn our hearts and minds towards the giver.


    FORGET [2]

    We give thanks for happiness,
    Which we forget until we're sad.
    We give thanks for peace,
    Which we forget until war approaches.
    We give thanks for friendship,
    Which we forget until we fall out.
    We give thanks for sight,
    Which we forget until we cannot see.
    We give thanks for faith,
    Which we forget until we lose it.
    We give thanks for breath,
    Which we forget until we remind ourselves.
    We give thanks for ourselves,
    Which we need no reminding of.
    We give thanks to God,
    Without whom we can neither forget
    nor remember.

    [1] Everton 2 Southampton 1 - see my blog of Saturday, February 22, 2003 for more excitement on this.
    [2] Martin Wroe from When You Haven't Got a Prayer (first couplet my addition).