Last month our congregation and I celebrated the anniversary of the worship service when we made our vows to partner together in worship and work. There were cards, laughter, gifts, good food, and memories shared. It was a full month of affirmation we had heard God’s call and answered with courage.
Though October was full of joy, our community is often filled with joy so it can be hard to distinguish between regular joy and special joy. I found myself reflecting on the past decade and wondering how we can be such a joyful community. I have determined that we are joyful because we have known pain.
We are a worshiping community made up of members who come from many other congregations. We have closed church buildings and said goodbye to the physical space our ancestors built. We have watched our children grow and move away to worship in other places, or to not worship at all. We have learned from experience that when our personal lives are crashing down it is highly likely the person who will come to hold us up under the weight is the very person who vehemently disagrees with us politically and theologically in most, if not all areas. We have learned to be real people, serving a real God, in the midst of real pain and struggle.
We are not perfect. We have many more roads to travel, more enlightenment to come, more repentance we must undertake, and we will. We will do this together. We will do this joyfully. We will do this because this is what we have been called to do. In ten years I have learned from those wiser and more experienced than me, that death is not the worst thing to happen. The worst is to be isolated and alone, never growing in compassion or understanding.
We are joyful not because we are naive. Rather, we are joyful because we have known pain and have learned to take that pain to change the world for God’s glory. I did not know what the first ten years would bring, and I do not know what the next ten will bring, but I am confident that together we will spread joy.