Tag Archives: community

And Then There Was Joy

I just had one of those moments where suddenly I understand things and I can’t believe how foolish I was for missing it in the first place. Some background:

  • my church has been going through the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. A few weeks ago we finished looking at the Traditionalist pathway
  • We’re also, as a church, celebrating Advent with a reading and lighting of the candles each week. There’s also daily materials that I forgot existed until now.
  • I’ve signed up with my local multicultural association to help as refugees start pouring into my city – training starts tomorrow.

Now, I love the advent season, I celebrate solstice (in the sense of taking time to reflect on the darkness and celebrate the return of the light) and Christmas is both a cultural and a spiritual celebration for me. I understand the history, the richness, the excitement and the depth of this time of year – holy days and sacred times. However, this year it’s all felt really flat to me. Maybe I’ve been too busy, maybe I’ve been too distracted by the cultural rituals (shopping, wrapping, hearing my kids say they want a ton of things) – whatever it was, something was missing.

Then I read this post and suddenly my heart swelled and tears were in my eyes and I understand it more. It’s not just the rituals (spiritual or cultural) or knowing the significance of the celebration, it’s taking the opportunity to feel it. To feel the anticipation, the hope, to understand the longing and the fear that comes in the waiting – what if it doesn’t get better, what if the light doesn’t come, what if we miss the Messiah – and then choosing to hope regardless. Choosing to celebrate, to feel joy. Choosing to prepare and anticipate and believe that God is bringing something that will forever change everything and that you are part of it.

I have an extra special opportunity to understand Advent this year, and I almost missed it. I almost didn’t connect the experience of helping new people settle here with the excitement and anticipation of advent. Suddenly things feel different, I’ve got that anxious excited fluttery feeling and I can’t wait to see what happens, to experience what is coming. I am so thankful to be a part of it.

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Weary

This morning I am not at my best. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. Despite my best efforts I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night. There are things tugging at my thoughts that make me feel anxious and frustrated and confused. There are some conversations and decisions happening in my church that make me wonder where I fit and if I might be wrong about some issues that I feel very strongly on.

These things are hard to deal with. For years I was very hard on “the Church” and wanted no part in it. Finding a church – a group of people who regularly get together to discuss spirituality and share life together – was hard. It took a long time to feel comfortable there and to feel safe. Through a lot of changes I’ve seen a lot of growth and positive things, but right now there’s an issue and it’s just hard.

Community is hard sometimes. I try to teach my kids that. I try to remind them that when you live in a family, when you’re in family space, it means you can’t always have exactly what you want. It means I can’t have a clean, quiet home and it means they can’t drag in every bit of mud and grass from the yard. Church community is the same – we need to be willing to give a little and choose not to express our will for the better of the whole. I know it won’t be the ideal I picture in my head (and I even understand parts of my ideal are probably wrong), but times like this are hard.

Really this is an opportunity for us to grow, as a community. It’s a chance to discuss and share and learn together, and to make decisions that might stretch us and push us a bit. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just hard.

Especially when I have to admit that I might be the one who needs to be stretched.