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Heaviness and Joy

Hi, Jack. I also enjoyed our time together. It is good to reflect and laugh. Seems to be the only sane response in a time of death. That we can talk about things that matter and laugh at the silliness and absurdity and our own foibles is grace indeed.

I guess the heaviness I am picking up — in our church, in other churches, in our institutions, in the larger society – is, in part, the lack of laughter, or to put it another way, the quieting of joy. I feel the anxiety. I hear the uneasiness. I sense the weight we all carry, personally and corporately. Surely some of what I’m seeing, and what Chris is seeing, is colored by our situation, namely her health. But my sense is that there is indeed a heaviness around us all. We felt something similar several years ago, in the months after 9-11, something palpable. And the weight of it all brought tears.

The manifestations of this heaviness are broken relationships, fear, bondage to old structures, denial of death, heroic posturing, the fashioning and feeding of endless arguments, the sense that whatever way there is out of this mess depends on us. And that is a great burden.

In the midst of this heaviness, our worship, naturally, is somber. And to my melancholic disposition, that feels right. But I also want to laugh. Deep down, I want to give voice to my joy, which includes the sadness and the laughter. Joy is the whole of it. Whenever you share a funny story, or Nancy [our other pastor] makes light of a technical difficulty, or a child gives a spontaneous but Spirit-timed offering of noise, the heaviness cracks and a greater reality shines through. I will laugh, and then I may cry out of gratitude that something else has intruded, waked me, reminded me of life eternal, life amid the death.

It’s the same with our laughing at the Shiny Diner. And our cussing. And our smiles at the memory of other moments. God, we need this grace. We need the reminders of another way.

And thank God for the pleasure of coffee. It’s time for another cup right now.