During this week focusing on Advent Joy, I share with you this meditation from Lori Megley-Best, from our Pacific Mountain Regional Council’s Ministry Personnel Support Team.
“I always buy a Christmas cactus during the season of Advent. I keep it on my dining table where I can see it all the time. It is a tangible sign that helps me remember that amidst the watching and waiting, that in the overwhelm of hectic schedules, that in the shadow of the uncertainty and anxiety and loneliness that this season can bring - God intends joy for us. That even as the days get darker - our hope will be watered and tended; peace will bloom. Joy shall come even though we may be in the wilderness.
Our congregation has been learning about and tending joy. Recently we have read a book called Deepening Community: Finding Joy in Chaotic Times by Paul Born (B-K Publishers, Inc.), a Canadian Mennonite who is known as a social innovator and who has dedicated his life to watering and tending healthy communities. In his book he discusses joy - the big difference between joy and happiness. He reveals the secrets that he has discovered about what joy is and how to tend it.
Firstly, happiness is personal and temporal. It is fleeting and is experienced by oneself. Whereas joy is a way of being. It is expressed through kindness and compassion. Joy evokes altruism, caring and the desire to end suffering.
My favorite part of his wisdom is when he says that joy can only be found within community. True joy can only be found when we are in relationship with others, and this is what identifies a successful community. And - joy is cultivated through the work of caring for others. What great news!
When we consider this, we can see why community is the bedrock of Christianity. That the gift of the church to followers of Jesus, is one way that God makes good on promises of joy.
As we watch and wait to celebrate the holy mystery of God coming to be with us, may we all know joy each day - through our connection to our faith communities, through care for one another and through our compassion for the world. That we discover living springs in God’s plan for us.
May the flowers of connection, forgiveness, friendship, hospitality, making space for difference, advocacy, sharing, and self-sacrifice bloom profusely in your hearts and be tangible signs of God’s promise to us: Joy shall come! Thanks be to God.
Advent blessings to you all,