It sounds so decadent, to even write the title of this post.
But the word I drew in worship on Sunday, the word I’m going to be praying with this coming year, is “pleasure”.
True story. I had been sorting through the word stars last week, getting them ready for worship, and praying over each of them and whoever was about to draw that word. And I saw the pleasure star and thought “that would be a good word to have“. I almost picked it then and there, but then I thought, “you can’t just sift through the stars and pick the one you like the most“. So I put it back in the basket.
Then I got to watch people pick their stars in worship on Sunday. And when worship was over, I went to pick my own word. And there it was.
So, I guess it is my word this year.
Still not really sure what to make of it.
Yes, it is a good word.
I try to take pleasure in the gifts of the day–whether it is a good cup of espresso, time with loved ones, unexpected laughter, or a beautiful sunset.
I think of stories of God’s delight, God’s pleasure, in creation, in us.
But I think the puritan streak runs deep in me, so perhaps I’d be more comfortable with a star that said “self-flagellation” or “denial” or “work harder, you slacker“.
I kid. Sort of. But look at how the word pleasure is used in 2 Peter 2:12-14.
These people, however, are like irrational animals, mere creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed. They slander what they do not understand, and when those creatures are destroyed, they also will be destroyed, 13suffering the penalty for doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their dissipation while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!
Or in 2 Timothy 3:1-5
You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!
Scripture seems to have a puritan streak as well–at least I come by mine honestly. The church has a long history of seeing pleasure in opposition to God. (I read these passages and wonder what happened to those authors to make them see the world so bleakly…. Where is their delight? Their joy? Their pleasure?)
But there are positive references to pleasure in Scripture too.
Ephesians 1:5 speaks of God’s pleasure, specifically the pleasure of adopting us as God’s own children.
“God destined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of God’s will”.
Baptism of the Lord Sunday is coming up, and I realized pleasure (or being pleased) is a part of that story too. Here’s Matthew’s account at the end of chapter 3:
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
There are many more references to pleasure in scripture that are positive too–God’s pleasure, primarily.
It made me realize how much this one word is a metaphor for the church today. We read different sections of scripture and choose the ones that resonate with us. And then we scream about, yell at, and judge the Christians who resonate with different verses.
(Perhaps that is another post–I don’t find any pleasure in church fighting...)
I went to the definition of the word, only to be reminded it has many different meanings.
- a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.
- enjoyment and entertainment, contrasted with things done out of necessity.“she had not traveled for pleasure for a long time”
- an event or activity from which one derives enjoyment.plural noun: pleasures“the car makes driving in the city a pleasure”
- sensual/sexual gratification.
- used or intended for entertainment rather than business.“pleasure boats”
Originlate Middle English: from Old French plaisir ‘to please’ (used as a noun). The second syllable was altered under the influence of abstract nouns ending in -ure, such as measure .
Apparently the word “pleasure” has been in decline the past 200 years, as evidenced by how much it shows up in writing. Maybe it is time for a renaissance of pleasure! Who’s in?