Frederick Buechner said, “There is no joy for any of us until there is joy for all of us.”
Joy is communal, God’s gift to the Church.
Have you ever felt all alone at church?
We’re made to share joy together. Where the Spirit leads his people, it’s a journey of joy. We’re gathered to share the joy of the Lord together, so it’s heartbreaking to hear the stories of church worker loneliness repeated so often.
The tragic irony of church life is that pastors and church workers are at the hub of an interconnected web of relationships, the local congregation, but so often are the ones experiencing the joylessness of loneliness.
I get it that it’s sometimes awkward to make close friends with church members. I know how hard it is to connect with peers in ministry who are busy, often distant, and can be harsh critics. Quality time with family is hard to find.
Many forces contribute to church worker loneliness.
The irony is that we’re surrounded by people, but can feel so alone.
And there’s no one to blame but ourselves.
Paul didn’t seem to have trouble developing the close bonds of fellowship that were a continual source of the joy. They fueled his ministry. I think first of the Philippians, but we at Grace Place Wellness like to dig deeply into the Ephesian letter, because it touches so often all all eight aspects of wellness we study in The Wellness Wheel.
And sure enough, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is laced through with references to the wonders and joys of the close, intimate bonds that he shared with his dear friends in Ephesus.
Reading Ephesians is a 19 minute encouragement to celebrate the joy of unity.
The Apostle is so convinced that unity in the Church is a great source of joy that he pulls out all the stops to convince the Ephesians. Here’s a small sample.
Paul get’s socio-political describing the joys of Christian unity. Chapter two is a stirring depiction of how the blood of Christ has brought down the most impregnable of walls between people, the one between Jews and Gentiles.
He gets numerical too, using the word “one” and “one another” twenty-five times, not to mention the beautiful “unity” section that begins chapter four.
He also gets biological in his discussion of the wonders of marriage and family life and the unity God intends for families.
And Paul gets metaphorical, launching into both of the wondrous biblical depictions of unity in the church: the living temple of the Lord, and the body of Christ and its many members.
There’s no joy for any of us until there is joy for all of us. I hope and pray that you’re experiencing the Spirit’s gift of joy in all of your communities of faith: your family, your congregation, your ministry team, your peers and your friendships.
I know for certain it’s what Jesus wants for you. Invite him to tear down some walls!
Thanks for reading.