I’ve been contemplating the idea of joy lately. Perhaps it’s because the women’s retreat will focus on joy
or simply because Easter is a joyful season. Or perhaps it’s because I’m fighting a cold, realizing it’s another first holiday without Grandma, and stressing over Holy Week plans that my heart is trying to find the energy and joy in the midst of everything. Though I also think I’m not joyless or that there’s an absence of joy.

Quite the opposite, I think. Joy, I believe, surrounds us even in our darkest of moments. And even when we don’t feel joy’s presence, much like God’s presence, joy is still there.

Take the season of Lent for example. We enter into weeks of somber, dark, dreary wilderness and self-reflection. We’re reminded of God’s grace, love and hope but beyond that Lent is dreary. However, underneath this dreariness lies hope. There lies the hope of light conquering darkness, a theme that began at Advent and Christmas. There’s the hope of new life and that death’s sting isn’t the end. There’s joy in singing, “Christ is Risen!” and knowing God’s love surrounds us. That hope and grace leads to joy and joyful singing.

Easter reminds us of joy. The lilies sing out like trumpets, praising God and reminding us of such joy.
Easter Sunday brings smiles with family and friends, laughter around tables. Joy is remembering Christ’s
resurrection, finding the empty tomb and recognizing God’s promises.

Yet I also fear that that joy is overshadowed by fear and anger, by our own stress or depression. The world is so hateful and angry at the moment. Is there any joy left? Is there any delight remaining?
As I said, I think so. I think joy is around us. I think joy is in the people and youth who raise their voices against injustice, hatred and calling for reform. I think joy is in watching winter melt away and spring popping forth. Joy is in random kindness and thankfulness. Again, joy surrounds us, even when we least expect it to.

Whether your heart is singing and full of joy or your heart aches, know that God’s love and joy surround you. Somehow joy always manages to sneak up on us and envelope us, even in the darkest of moments. Easter reminds us of this. What was once a dark day, ended in joy as the tomb laid empty, as Jesus was risen.

May joy surround you all this Easter season.

Peace,

Pastor Amanda