Turn It Up!
Tim: In her essay “Humans 101,” Anne Lamott says we’re designed for joy. Assuming you agree with her, what do you think she means?
Shea: I do agree and, based on how she discusses joy, I believe she’s connecting joy with wholeness, a kind of deep contentment we sometimes refer to as “shalom.”
Tim: Are you saying our joy is contingent on having that kind of wholeness? If so, there would be plenty of days when joy would be impossible for me because shalom doesn’t always show up on my daily menu. There are plenty of days when I’m depleted, disjointed, cracked open in ways I didn’t see coming. But, rather oddly, on many of those days I still find joy.
Shea: Exactly. Joy is not contingent on wholeness, because there’s a discipline to it. We practice joy, particularly when feeling joyful seems beyond our reach. I think that’s what Lamott is talking about when she recommends going back and redoing the “joy training.”
Tim: Advent, of course, is the perfect season for contemplating joy, in part because it’s so central to the tradition and story. This coming Sunday churches around the world will light the “joy” candle and, of course, the texts and hymns and sermons will point toward rejoicing.
Shea: Yes, but I also think we need to take care not confuse Advent joy with “Yuletide cheer.” There’s a lot of sentiment wound into the holidays—the festivities and movies and decorations and songs playing nonstop wherever you go. That’s all part of the cheer. Joy runs deeper. Joy abides.
Tim: My mind keeps racing toward Jesus’s last conversation with his followers, where he assures them they are loved and then tells them, “I’ve told you these things so that your joy might be complete” (John 15:11).
Shea: And then he commands them to love one another, to the degree that they would be willing to die for one another. So there is a connection between profound joy and the deepest kind of love.
Tim: I couldn’t agree more. And that connection can unlock the mystery of abiding joy. The “joy training” Lamott talks about is actually closer to learning to love as fully as possible.
Shea: And if we want to turn up the joy this season, we’ll have to fire up our love lights and keep them burning at full brightness as well.
Tim: Yes! This Advent let us go back into the joy training and turn it up to full volume! Lamott is right. We are designed for joy!
Join us this Thursday at 7:30 as we continue our Advent study series, Hopeward Bound, a hope-peace-joy-love sequence of conversations in tandem with Anne Lamott’s Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. We meet in the Chapel of Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, in Oak Park, Illinois. If you’re unable to get there in person, find us online at Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.