God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Genesis 1.31

Colours of Happiness

Well? Does the word happy convey you to memories of smiling or are you trying to figure out exactly what that means and, in turn, if it actually means anything in your life? Apparently, if you are a religious person, with all of the nuances that word conveys, you might actually be happy, you might actually be able to process what that means in your life.

How we choose to engage with the world around us, I believe, is determined largely by the degree to which we are self-aware, the extent to which we have found space and time to get to know ourselves and our place in Creation. The challenge, however, is that pretty much every message that we hear from the media, from the Dominant Culture to which I, you, our families and friends are intimately and irrevocably linked, does not foster that exploration. And the sad thing is that though we may long to seek ourselves and the Holy, it really is not an easy task to begin …

Leadership in the church, whether lay or paid-accountable, must model ways in which to explore the Self. I can read a lot of books, I have access to more words and information than John Wesley could dream of and, yet, without being grounded in who I am, I am dangerous. If I don’t know my stuff, not only might I derail the faith journey of someone who is seeking, I could very well be the catalyst for harm. So I am not only accountable to my sense of Call and Creator, but to the communities with which I walk and the individuals who make up those families of faith. This is serious stuff! I am not sure I can offer you a way through this, but perhaps I might lend you a guide that I have found helpful.

In our Protestant tradition we have really misused and, quite often, misrepresented Augustine’s concept of Original Sin. It’s one of my pet opinions that this doctrine is so pervasive within a post-Christian society that it has woven itself into every part of our secular expression of humanism. And, so I am not surprised that often the word happy can be a block – if we do not value ourselves, it sort of follows that any intentional journey with God in community gets that much harder …

So, it’s here that I started to find my way … the idea of Original Sin is pretty much non-existent in the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, the reality may very well be the opposite of Augustine’s need to try to understand the world that was crumbling around him – the first Genesis Story is not about inherent guilt or evil, sin or brokenness, but beauty and goodness: Original Blessing.

A Himilayan Sign of Blessing

I do not mean to imply that there is some carte blanche in our First Scriptures that gives us license to frivolity that can lead to a disregard for others. In fact, I believe that the idea of Original Blessing is a much stronger incentive than the motivation that has been misused by the concept of Original Sin. If we can journey to a place where we can claim our beauty and blessing as a creation of the Divine then it becomes not only an expectation or obligation to share with others this Good News, but there is also the passion of self-realisation that is simply a gift to offer. The moment when another human being realises his/her connexion to Creation and, in turn, that s/he is indeed God’s Beloved the world changes, it vibrates with the rushing Spirit.

So, wherever you are and in whatever roles of leadership that you walk, ask yourself, are you happy? Not in a trite superficial manner … heaven forbid … and, if you can answer in the affirmative after reflection and prayer, then go forth and be the light for others. And, if not, if you struggle with claiming that radical idea, sit down with Genesis, read the first chapter and listen for God’s voice reminding you that in THEIR image you were created and that you are good. The world is hurting, we are hurting, and God’s creation cries for the beauty that is in each of us waiting to bloom into the Kingdom that can begin with a simple question …

So, are you happy?