Joy and Grief

Author: Lisa Horst Clark, Pastor

It has been a busy week at the church, preparing for the upcoming weekend. This Sunday is opening Sunday—the big return where we launch children and youth programs, educational groups kick off their year, and the choir returns with joyful noise. And to celebrate, membership will also be hosting an ice cream social after church—because what isn’t better with ice cream?

And yet, this is not the only event to be held in the church this weekend. We will also be holding two memorial services for women who have been pillars of the church and community, and whose lives made an impact for justice in our world.

I have been holding these things in my heart this week, as we have been moving between preparations for joyful beginnings and for holding a space for grief. It can feel like emotional whiplash, as we move between joy and sadness and back again. How are we supposed to feel at a time like this?

It is one of the gifts of the Christian faith that we have complex emotions built into our theological roots. Our faith proclaims resurrection as big good news, but you can’t tell the story of Easter without talking about Good Friday. And in the same way, even in the harrowing story of crucifixion, we hear the whispers that death is not God’s final word. It is part of the beauty of our faith, that in the midst of joy we remember those in suffering, and that there is no suffering that is beyond the reach of God’s hope.

This weekend, I am preparing myself for that holy complexity of emotion. I am trusting that God can hold gratitude along with grief, sadness along with joy, thankfulness for how far we have come alongside a call for how much farther we have to go. And in its bigness, I am trusting in the resurrection—that we don’t need to be afraid of sadness or joy, but that the love of God can be felt through both.



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