Friday morning, I drove down to South Charleston, Ohio. It’s a little town between Dayton and Columbus with a good-sized EPC church which was hosting our presbytery meeting. Everything went fine until I pulled off the interstate and stopped at the sign to turn onto the state highway for the last nine miles of the trip. When I stopped, there was a loud “clunk”; when I started driving again—well, I didn’t start. I tried, but the car seemed to think it was in neutral. I found that if I put it into first gear, it would engage; I then discovered that I could work my way up one gear at a time until it was back in fourth gear. Then I made it into town and stopped at the light, and I had to do it all over again. Instead of an automatic transmission, I had a stick shift without a clutch.
There wasn’t any place in South Charleston that could work on it, so I had it towed to a shop in Springfield, about twelve miles away. They looked it over and told me they could probably have it fixed by Wednesday. Obviously, I couldn’t stay that long, so I hitched a ride home with the folks from the downtown church. I’m not sure how I’ll get back down there to pick it up, but I presume by God’s grace we’ll figure something out.
As you can imagine, the presbytery meeting didn’t hold my full attention. During the closing worship service, I was trying to focus, but I was also trying to figure out how I was getting home, and if I’d have to wait until Saturday to do it. Still, in the middle of my own little whirlwind, something the preacher said started me thinking about joy, and about this sermon and this passage.