UNYC Director of Stewardship

Rev. Susan M. Ranous, Deacon of Stewardship (updated 01-27-21) 
There is good news! We just celebrated Jesus’ birth, and in our lectionary, Jesus’ baptism was just celebrated as he readies himself for his ministry. It’s going to be an exciting three years for Jesus and his disciples, and an exciting few months as we ready ourselves for Lent and to celebrate Easter! 
            Just the other day, I was reading a few lines from an article online that had a title of “good news.” I talked to Steve about it, he talked to me about the article about happy times[1]. I looked at him questioningly for a few moments before I figured out that the article’s “good news” had become “happy times.” 
            I laughed for a bit, although I thought it was a very interesting concept, and then said, “hey, that’s a great title!” After all, Jesus never promised us happy times, but the Gospels do bring us good news. Those are not the same thing, although we do sometimes get caught up in wondering why good people suffer? Why we hurt? Why? Why? Why? 
            How many of you remember the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” sung by Barbra Streisand?

Happy Days Are Here Again (Songwriters: Jack Yellen, Milton Ager)

So long sad times
Go long bad times
We are rid of you at last
Howdy gay times
Cloudy gray times
You are now a thing of the past

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clearer again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

Altogether shout it now
There's no one
Who can doubt it now

So let's tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again
Your cares and troubles are gone
There'll be no more from now on
From now on

Happy days are here again
The skies above are so clear again
So, let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy times
Happy nights
Happy days
Are here again        

        This song implies that we won’t be sad anymore, there won’t be cloudy skies and that all our cares and troubles are gone. Well, something certainly happened: our Messiah was born, and in a few short months we will celebrate his rising from the dead. 
            That is Good News, contained in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But there are no promises that everything will be sunshine and roses, or no clouds or sad times. Of the twelve men that followed Jesus and were called his disciples, one betrayed him and killed himself; ten were killed because of their beliefs and their teaching of the good news, and only one lived into old age (John), although he lived in seclusion on an island. None of that sounds like happy and care-free, but they believed in and taught the good news. The stories of those disciples and how they spent their time after Jesus is interesting in and of itself, of course. 
            Let’s not, even in these times of racism, violence, pain and fear, complain that “this isn’t what I signed up for.” What I signed up for was to follow Jesus and to show his love to my neighbors in all places. What did you sign up for?

 

[1] Steve Ranous quote – January 2021.