Joy is a gift from God.

Dear Congregation,
    
I hope and pray you are all doing well as we continue in this odd time of pandemic “safe at home”, even as some aspects of life are beginning to reopen. I know we all look forward to the day when we can resume the daily activities we’re used to taking for granted, but now seem so precious.
     
Yesterday I was blessed to attend a Zoominar put on by the Florida Conference, UCC, led by The Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund, discussing mental health implications of COVID-19 on ministry and ministers. Rev. Lund is a local church pastor in Indianapolis and is on the national staff of the UCC as Minister for Disabilities Justice and Mental Health issues. I will be sharing more of the good information and ideas she presented with you in the future.
      
I think we could all agree that the stress, isolation, and worry with which we’ve lived during these past weeks have taken a toll on our mental health. It’s important to recognize that reality and to realize that it’s a natural response to a very difficult situation. We aren’t weak or of little faith, we’re human!
    
Two things that particularly struck me that Rev. Lund said, I want to share with you today. The first is the negative impact of saying that the way we’re living right now is the “new normal”. That statement implies that we can’t expect things to improve. It takes away hope. It encourages us to give up and stay stuck in grief for what we’ve lost, the little things as well as the big.  Living in fear and isolation is not normal. This, too, shall pass. Do not accept the lie that this is the way it will always be. Better days are coming.
      
The second thing that Rev. Lund lifted up as a way to cope with the here and now is to intentionally look for and celebrate the joy to be found today. Joy can be found, if we pay attention, in nature— a bird’s song, the beauty of flowers, a full moon, a soft breeze—as well as in other ordinary places. Think of them yourself, maybe the sound of a loved one’s voice in a phone call, your morning cup of coffee, the love in the eyes of your dog, the contented purring of your cat. The list goes on. I invite you to make your own personal joy list.
       
Joy is a gift from God. We sing of it in the Christmas carols, but it definitely is not limited to that season. May you find joy in God’s gift of the everyday and remember that there is much joy still to come!
     
God bless you. See you Sunday on Facebook!
    
In Christ’s love.
   
Pastor Candy
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