Every Wednesday morning at Bud’s Warehouse, the staff gathers for our weekly hood check. This is a time where each person “pops the hood” of his or her life and let’s everyone peer inside. It’s a powerful time of sharing that is largely responsible for enabling the business as ministry Bud’s Warehouse to succeed. When you throw a bunch of people together in a faith venture who are rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, or felony conviction, the hood check provides the environment for grace and understanding. It allows the workplace to succeed. I often argue that all businesses need to practice the hood check. I am convinced they will see benefits when staff members understand each other better.
Last week, we started our time together by listening to the passage in Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) where Paul urges: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” In particular, we reflected on the word “rejoice.” Rob Bell, in his fantastic November 16, 2008, sermon, “I Will Say it Again and Again and Again,” noted that the word “rejoice” (“Chairos”) in Greek comes from the root “charis” which means “gift.” So rejoicing was the process of remembering the gifts that God has provided.
After listening to Paul’s reminder to rejoice, we went around the room and asked how God had gifted each individual. Men rejoiced in their wives and families, some thanked God for the gift of a job, one was thankful that he was blessed with unexpected freedom from jail, and many were grateful for faith. We then asked each person to share what they weren’t thankful for-- what they were complaining about to God. With great difficulty, almost everyone struggled to share his or her complaints. Some because they really didn’t have any complaints and others because they felt like it was odd or difficult. One had a painful complaint about having to spend Thanksgiving in jail away from his family because he was serving a work-release sentence. After sharing blessings and complaints, we discovered a little more about God.
Our conversation then naturally turned to the idea that in our daily prayer life, many of us find it easier to complain then to be thankful. But Paul seems to understand that and calls us to a new approach. He wants us to cast our anxieties onto God and to rejoice. When we establish habits of remembering how God has blessed us, we create an environment in our life ripe for rejoicing and free of the burdens of worry and anxiety. That’s a gift. Rejoice!