In Between Sundays

The Gift of Joy

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By most measurements, John Pierpont’s life was anything but successful.  In 1804, he graduated from Yale College and entered his professional life as an educator, but that didn’t last long.  He was too easy on his students.  Pierpont then attempted a legal career, but that also came to an abrupt end; he was too generous to his clients, extending credit and failing to collect legal fees. 

He then went into business for himself as a dry goods merchant.  Unfortunately, business wasn’t his thing; he didn’t charge enough to turn a profit and he failed to collect on debts created by extending credit.  John Pierpont then tried his hand at poetry, and yes, while he was a published writer he didn’t earn enough royalties to make a living.  You got it.  Another failure.

What was left for Pierpont to do?  He became a minister.  (No snarky comments, please.)  He went to Harvard School of Divinity and was ordained at the Hollis Street Church in Boston.  But, because he favored prohibition and was anti-slavery, John Pierpont landed in trouble with some of his parishioners and they asked him to resign.

He entered the political arena and ran for the governor’s seat in the state of Massachusetts and lost.  He then made a bid for a congressional seat in Washington . . . and lost.  The last five years of his life?  Pierpont spent them as a file clerk tucked away in an obscure office of the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.  Did he find fulfillment?  Not really.  He had no passion for it.

Pierpont is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He died in 1866.  His grave marker reads, “Poet, Preacher, Philosopher, Philanthropist.”

Now before you place John Pierpont in a column marked “Losers”, every December we celebrate him; it’s a memorial of sorts.  You see, John Pierpont wrote a Christmas song.  It’s a song about the simple joy of flying through drifts of snow in a “one-horse open sleigh”, laughing and singing with the best of friends!  John Pierpont penned the words as a simple gift to his family, friends, and church, and in doing so he left a permanent gift for every Christmas:  the invisible gift of joy.

Yes.  John Pierpont wrote the Christmas song, “Jingle Bells!”  It was his way of reminding us that in the midst of our own personal winter, we too can celebrate the angelic message: “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy . . .”  Thanks, John, for sharing your song & success with us!

Posted by Ted Burden with

Bella and the Dachshund

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Jo and I have two little dogs.  They’re both about a year-and-a-half old.  “Bella” is a Yorkie/Bichon mix and “Addie” is our piebald-colored dachshund.  We got them within weeks of one another after our other two pet dogs died last year.  That wasn’t a particularly happy time in our house.

Little dogs rock!  Before you laugh out-loud you have to know it’s just what we old people do.  We buy little dogs to entertain us and fill the empty spaces that were created when our kids grew up and went away to college.  That’s also why you see pampered little dogs riding around in cars wearing red sweaters and blinged-out collars.  I am speaking truth to you.  

I gotta admit, no matter what is happening in the world or what kind of day I’m having, Bella and Addie always are standing at the back door, jumping up and down, smiling, tails wagging and THRILLED to see Jo and I.  (Hmmm, now that I think about it, our dogs have always been more excited to see us than our kids were on any given day. 

Last week when I was standing in front of the mirror getting ready for work, I was reminded of an old prayer.  It goes like this: “Lord, help me be the man my dogs think I really am.”  As I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself I was reminded of this simple fact:  there two common views we all have of ourselves.  One is the soul I want to be, and the other is the soul I truly am.

So, you see no matter how much I long to always be the quick-witted, intelligent guy; or, the patient, gentle, loving, and kind person – God knows who I really am.  God knows the condition of my soul . . . and is still crazy in love with me.  Jeremiah 31:3 says, “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”  My prayer continues to be, “Lord, by Your power and strength alone, help me be the man my dogs think I really am.”

Posted by Ted Burden with

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