Dear Friends in Christ,
Next week, I will be away on vacation—my first substantial time away since beginning at Grace. One of my family’s traditions is a trip to Vermont. My kids do a week of circus training at the New England Center for Circus Arts (the photo below shows Lucy mastering “Bird’s Nest” in first grade), I go hiking and birdwatching, and we all spend the afternoon swimming in the West River and picking berries.
I know you all have your summer traditions, too—whether it is the beach with four generations or quiet solitude in your back yard. And we have all had to adjust our traditions in the pandemic. But what these times have in common—and what endures from year to year—is the experience of joy.
It’s easy to underestimate joy. We think it happens when we’re lucky, or that it’s an escape from the real work of life. But I am learning that joy can be intentional and that it is one of the most profound Christian virtues, a tool of resistance against the powers of death.
When we allow joy—when we, in fact, cultivate it—we are insisting on the never-failing goodness of God. And we are implicitly claiming that God’s goodness endures despite all the powers that prevail against it.
A parishioner recently shared with me this article from the New York Times about collective effervescence, and I think we who have been missing church instinctively understand what the author talks about. We know what it means to miss moments of shared, transcendent joy.
This is the season to seek joy again—here at Grace Church, certainly (nothing feels more joyful to me right now than singing a hymn in a full church on Sunday morning)—but also in all the places of the world that offer you delight and connection and peace.
In that article, the author wrote this: “Joy shared is joy sustained.” I hope you will seek joy, and I hope you will share joy. And I hope that practice of joy will become a part of our life together, sustaining us all.
Yours in Christ,