If you have attended any of the parades in Delaware the last couple of years, you have seen the 740 Stompers. They are a group of guys who wear cutoff jeans, headbands and wristbands, and their signature t-shirt while performing a dance as they march in the parade. Recently, they have started asking people to throw their underwear at them as they pass by. Really, they are asking people to throw new underwear, still in the package, into shopping carts the guys are pushing. The Stompers then donate the underwear to the Common Ground Free Store.
I am a proud member of this dance troupe. As an out of shape, slightly overweight, middle-aged dad, I question my sanity every time we line up for a parade. I have never been good at dancing and usually don’t like to embarrass myself, and yet every parade I don my Stomper uniform like a superhero preparing to save the world.
The main reason I jumped into this group at the very beginning was because our goal was simply to bring smiles to the people of Delaware. This may seem like a simple and even silly goal. You might even say that it is a waste of time and energy. A few years ago, I might have agreed with you!
But then I ran into Galatians 5:22-23. It reads like this in the New Living Translation: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
One of the products of having God’s Spirit in me is joy. To be a Christ-follower is to have a life that produces joy. I know that joy is more than a temporary feeling of being happy. Joy is an undercurrent of contentment and peace in my life that helps me find strength even when my circumstances are not ideal. When bad things happen in life — and they will — I can maintain a level of peace.
Here is where my seemingly ridiculous participation in the 740 Stompers comes in. I believe this verse is not just saying that when I submit my life to God and live by the Holy Spirit I can have joy in my life, I believe that this verse is saying I will be able to give joy away to people around me. If I am truly trying to be faithful to God, my life should not only demonstrate joy, but I should also be a joy to be around. Producing joy should positively affect everyone I come in contact with.
And so I dance. I know my dancing is terrible by industry standards, but if the joy in my life can somehow spread to the people lining the streets, then it is worth it!
I invite you to join me in producing joy. You don’t have to dance in a parade, but take a moment today and see how you can produce joy around you. Get creative! See where God leads.
Rev. Jason Allison is senior pastor of Terra Nova Community Church in Delaware. For information, go to www.terranovacc.com.