A Letter from our Conference Minister
(Printed in PNEC email 9/3/20)
Good day friends,
“This is the day our God has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
In some of these days it is difficult to rejoice. As the racial hostilities and the political rhetoric in our country continue to rise, as the numbers of people afflicted with and dying from COVID continue to rise, as the tensions in schools, workplaces and communities continue to rise, how can we help our joy rise? It seems to me that we often equate joy with happiness and treat them both as emotions that are a response to our environment. I feel, rather, that joy is a choice. We choose joy each and every day and each and every moment of each day. We choose joy because we are the beloved of God; all of us, each of us. That is reason enough to have joy.
Psalm 16: 11 reads, "You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (NRSV).
We live and move and have our being in the presence of God. That is reason enough to have joy, to choose joy.
Now, I will be the first one to tell you that being joy-filled is a true challenge. With the needs of our pastors and our congregations, with Steve’s illness, with the stress and strain of interacting, or maybe not being able to interact in person, it’s hard some days to choose joy. Yet, I do not want to choose sorrow, although I feel that. I don’t want to choose grief, although I feel that. I don’t want to feel anxiety or impatience, although I feel those too. I want to choose joy! That is my prayer each and every day – to have God help me choose joy!
Now my choosing joy won’t change the challenges in this life, in my work, in my family, or in our culture. Yet, joy helps me navigate those challenges with hope – another of the spiritual gifts I pray to have in my life.
So, how are you? What are you feeling? What are you encountering? What choices are you making? These are some of the topics – these and more practical ones like worship resources and technology assistance – that we share at our Pastors’ Conversations on zoom twice a month. These are topics we can share when we are in fellowship gatherings on Zoom or Facebook, in worship time, at the dinner table, in phone calls, and as we gather in any way – physically when that is possible or virtually at other times. Take a moment to ask yourself how you are, what you are feeling, what you are encountering and then share that with someone you care about who cares about you. Ask them the same questions and listen to their response. Then, my friends, together, choose joy!
That is my prayer for you this day.