This past week, I learned of my mother's passing. It was complicated news to hear heading into the season of Advent. So, this year, I am showing up to Advent with many different emotions all at once. With Zechariah and Elizabeth, I acknowledge my weariness while simultaneous celebrating the gift of my mother's life and the joy of God's good news, Christ is with us - Emmanuel -- once again this year and always. As I reflect on this significant news, I am reminded of the third chapter of Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown, entitled: "Places We Go When Things Don’t Go as Planned."
In this chapter, she explores how too many people in the world prefer to live disappointed instead of risking the feeling of disappointment. She references an interview she did with a man later in his life who had always believed that expecting the worst was the best way to live. He described how this outlook made him feel prepared for bad things if they were to happen. Then, his wife died in a car accident and his perspective completely changed. Expecting the worst didn’t prepare him for that loss, and worse, he grieved that so many of his memories with his wife were ones when he was not fully enjoying the moment. He admitted, “My commitment to her is to fully enjoy every moment now” (50).
So, as Advent begins, consider how weariness might be showing up in your life as foreboding joy or worst-case-scenario-thinking, which might be preventing you from living fully in the here and now. I invite you to take a piece of paper and write a list of everything -- big and small -- that brings you joy. Tape your list to your fridge or display it somewhere you will see it daily. Try to fill these days with the things on your joy list.
As we begin a new year in the Christian calendar, I am also reflecting on all the joy we have experienced together as a community of faith, and I am counting every blessing. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, I hope this short video, which celebrates what God has done in 2023 through our congregation, reminds you of all the good, and joyful moments we are given because we are part of this particular community of faith at the corner of Franklin Farm Road and the Fairfax County Parkway in Herndon, VA.
Praise be to God!
- Cover Image from A Weary World Rejoices Worship Materials, Sanctified Art, LLC
- 2023 Year in Review Video Music: Counting Every Blessing, Rend Collective.