Joyous Transformation Advent Sunday
Welcome to Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of joy,
If you’re not feeling particularly joyful, don’t worry. If, instead of joy, you feel frantic or stressed, dis-eased or lonely or sorrowful, it’s okay. You’re in good company. Despite the directive to rejoice and to light the pink candle on the Advent wreath, you can’t manufacture joy. And I personally don’t think forcing joy is the call of this Sunday anyway.
I’m very often described as a joyful person and I do prefer that feeling over sorrow or confusion or anger. Over this past year, I like many of you have experienced transition – one thing after another has shifted in my life – and although I have experienced good things, I’ve also had some losses. When I can’t get my balance through the changes, it’s hard for me to find my joy.
For lots of people, this time of year and the pressure to feel joy is very difficult. Those of you who are grieving or have difficult family situations or struggle with job loss, financial difficulty, or serious illness – I see you. Joy may be hard for you to come by, too, and if that’s the case, give yourself a break. You can’t force joy.
Even though we can’t produce joy, I am encouraged by the biblical passage: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” I don’t hear this as a command so much as an invitation. I can’t force joy, but I can welcome it when it arrives. At least for me, even in times of sorrow, God does and continues to surprise me with little, unexpected moments of joy.
My humble prayer for each of you is that God may gift each of us with small moments of genuine joy, and that you and I will welcome them as they come. Can I get an AMEN!?
Blessings for a Joyous Transformation,
Rev. Clarissa Martinelli
Pastor, Fifth Avenue UMC
323 South Fifth Avenue
West Bend, WI
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. I am a child of God.” marianne williamison