I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy!
The lights of the menorah are burning brightly. Beautiful evergreens are being brought indoors. And the days are growing darker and colder. The holidays are upon us, and this is a time for gratitude, beloved community, and rejoicing!
We are moving towards the completion of another year of surviving in the midst of a pandemic and turning with hopefulness to what the New Year may bring. The persistence of our faith has carried us this far, and it will continue to guide us through this season and through whatever the future may bring. The winter months are a time for slowing down, moving inward, recharging, and reflecting upon the deeper meanings and purposes of our lives. They are also a time for connecting with families and friends, gift giving, shared meals, and reaching out to those who may be isolated, depressed, or alone. It is through the beloved community that we approach the holiday season knowing we are all held by something greater than ourselves.
I am reminded and comforted in this holiday time by the words of the meditation “There Is a Love” written by the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker and set to music by Elizabeth Norton: “There is a love holding us. There is a love holding all we love. There is a love holding all. We rest in this love.” May we find the time to rest in this love as we restore ourselves, celebrate, and rejoice this holiday season.
Our Souls Matters theme for reflection this month is “Opening to Joy.” Every month we focus on a single theme of spiritual significance in some of our publications, church activities, and worship services. “Opening to Joy” invites us to consider the joy that is already present in our lives but perhaps goes unnoticed. The holidays are a time when the world seems to be filled with opportunities to slow down and appreciate the small miracles of our lives. Each month, we provide theme-based reflection questions which you can contemplate or bring to your church groups and families and friends beyond the church to practice spiritual deepening through sharing and reflection. A few questions to meditate upon this month include: Who helps you see the joy in front of you? How has your definition of joy changed as you’ve grown older? Are you mostly a creator of joy, receiver of joy, notice-er of joy, or spreader of joy? What needs removed from your life in order for joy to expand, or to return? Is it time to choose joy?
If you are having a difficult time this winter and would like to be spiritually companioned by one of our Pastoral Associates, or have a need our Care Ring members might be able to assist you with, you can confidentiality reach out for support at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use this same email if there’s a joy, sorrow, or important milestone you’d like us to share on a Sunday morning.
May you have a Bright Hanukkah, a Peaceful Winter Solstice, a Merry Yule, a Warm Christmas, a Happy Kwanzaa, and a Joyous New Year!
Yours in ministry and love,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae