For this Advent and Christmastide, we are deepening into the question of How Does a Weary World Rejoice? You can follow along with daily devotionals on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
This past Spring, our nation’s Surgeon General issued a report that we have an “epidemic of loneliness” in this country. He wrote that loneliness “fundamentally affects our mental, physical, and societal health,” increasing the risk for mental health challenges and premature death comparable to the effects of smoking daily.
Furthermore, Dr. Murthy emphasized that “our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives.” And he urged our nation to “prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders,” affirming that “Together, we can build a country that’s healthier, more resilient, less lonely, and more connected.”
Faith communities like ours are one of the unique places in our culture where we come together explicitly for this vital sense of connection — connection to God and connection to one another. It’s what we emphasize ritually every worship service when we move from confession and assurance (re-connecting with God) to the passing of the peace (re-connecting with one another). And we do it in a number of ongoing ways: worship, coffee hour, meals, meetings, potlucks, singing, Church School, the Food Pantry, Thrifty Threads, our annual Thanksgiving Meal and on and on.
This Advent and Christmastide, as we absorb the daily injection of bad news from around the world, we are delving into the question of “How Does a Weary World Rejoice?” And on Sunday, we’ll reflect on how connection — to God, to nature, to ourselves, to one another — can bring us joy. We’ll reflect on the story of the elderly, pregnant Elizabeth coming out of her seclusion and welcoming her newly, miraculously pregnant cousin (Luke 1:24-45). The meeting made little fetus John the Baptist jump in her womb and inspired Elizabeth to break out into song. How did their connection spark joy? How do we discover the same kind of joy in our connections?
Come this First Sunday of Advent and we will lean into these questions together.
Image credit: The Windsock Visitation, by Brother Mickey McGrath OSFS