Choosing Joy

The nights are getting longer and the sunshine is getting shorter. Winter is coming, and we are fast approaching the longest night. Even in the midst of the joy and cheer of the season, it seems that we are surrounded by grief. Memorial services and school shootings and canceled school band concerts bring new grief. Holiday preparations without a loved one or without the ability to do what we used to do bring remembered grief.

And in the midst of it all, we continue to put on a smile and pretend we are OK and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

In the traditional readings of the Advent candles, this week is the week of JOY. We are expected to have joy when the world – or our world – is falling apart?

We celebrate joy this week as a reminder that joy is not just promise, but it’s a choice. Sometimes, we have to consciously choose joy. Choose joy in the midst of the struggle. Choose to respond to the grumpy clerk with joy. Choose to respond to the negative relative with joy. Choose to tackle the endless tasks of the day (I have to do dishes again?!?) with joy. Sometimes, we can anticipate joy that is to come. But sometimes, we have to choose joy in our days.

For five months, I have had the promise of joy to come: My living room would become a usable space again and my house would be returned to order. While the promise was there for the future, I had to choose joy each day. In the midst of the dust and chaos, I tried to choose joy each day. I choose to see my stuff as a blessing. I choose joy because it’s our house and we get to put our personality on it. I choose joy for the day, even with the promise of joy to come when it’s done.

We will be posting updated photos of the living room on my personal Facebook page, if you want to see the finished product! Carpet installers are here today (Friday), and then the promise of joy will be fulfilled! Well, for me. The kids won’t like all the cleaning and dusting they will have to do over the weekend as we get the room filled in!!

If you are finding it hard to choose joy, I invite you to consider coming to the Longest Night service on Dec. 20. This service will center around the harp and the Psalms of David. It’s intended to be a safe space to acknowledge grief in this season, while offering hope for our future.

May you find joy this season, in the promise of the Christ Child and in the promise that every day can have a nugget of joy to be found. May you choose joy enough that it becomes a little easier each day to be joy-filled.

See you soon.
Pastor Lynn

The “most wonderful time of the year” is upon us, but not everyone is feeling joyful right now. Those who have had a rough year, are struggling with painful anniversaries or are just generally not feeling festive for one reason or another are invited to attend our Longest Night Service at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 in the Fellowship Hall. In this quiet, more meditative service, we will acknowledge the difficulties that can come with this time of year and collectively welcome the light back into our lives and our world.

(Please note, masks are required during all services as well as inside all St. Mark’s buildings.)

Join us for worship:

  • 8:30 a.m. Traditional service with choirs in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
  • 10 a.m. Modern worship service with Praise Team in Fellowship Hall
  • 10 a.m. Traditional service with choirs in Sanctuary
  • 10 a.m. Youth and children’s Sunday School and child care
  • 10 a.m. Livestream premieres on YouTube and Website

To access our pre-recorded service:

  • From the main menu on our website click “Worship.”  -OR-
  • Go to YouTube and search for UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley or use this link.