"Hey, God......(insert exclamation)!
I’ve read that kids laugh anywhere between 300-600 times a day, and adults only 15-17 times per day … but tbh that seems to be an urban myth, and legit statistical data seems a little skimpy and inconclusive! ‘Tis true that children do laugh more than adults though … and they seem quicker to find joy in the absurd and surprising. My son sent me a video the other day of our 10 month old granddaughter laughing as she played with a doorstopper, and another of her delighting in bubbles at bathtime. Joy in small delights. Probably none of us have laughed at a doorstopper for a while.. though we may well smile as we stand under a glorious shower after a hearty workout….
Perhaps children in safe environments tend to be rather cheerier than most adults and quicker to show their feelings! But adults are also known to laugh more frequently when they are in social settings.
All of this has made me wonder about the place joy has in our lives right now. As we are having fewer face to face encounters ‘in the flesh’ with other people, as many of us are isolated for extended periods, as we don’t do some of the fun things we used to do (put your hand up if you’ve been to the theatre or cinema or a concert in the last 5 months… or a party or a wedding)…. our opportunities for laughter feel a little limited.
Week 2: R = rejoice
But the R for rejoice we talked about last Sunday is deeper than laughter*- it can come as we deliberately bring our current situations and emotions into God’s presence. As we ask God to comfort, heal, shelter - and simply love us where we are - then, we can rejoice as we turn and recognise that God is present. That kind of joy is the deeper kind. We may not laugh, but we know the relief, the sense of shedding our concerns into his hands; the joy of knowing God knows.
BUT we also are missing some of our other normal stimuli to joy, because if meeting with people is more likely to stir up joy in us - how can we meet (relatively safely) at the moment? Knowing everything we do holds some risk?
If you are ready for some face-to-face meeting times, here are a few ways we are beginning to meet together:
Hiking: Want to join us? The easiest way is to sign up to the small group on line and you’ll get the details every fortnight when Jenni organises a hike. We’re keeping this going through the Fall. Signing up for the small group doesn’t mean you have to go each time but is the easiest way to ensure you don’t miss the option! These hikes are glorious. Normally around 5-6 miles long, and the pace is fairly gentle! Bring a friend....
Garden Church: small groups of 2 - 10 people (depending on the yard size) joining to worship together at 5pm on a Sunday. As safe as possible given the pandemic - and totally delightful. Some groups eat together after the service - but only stay if you feel comfortable! Sign up here! Bring a friend....
Wild Wonder: If you have kids (or not?) and feel comfortable joining others, why not join Josie in Alcova Park at 9.30am on Sunday mornings. Perhaps one parent could go to the Chapel and one to the park? Look out for Josie's Friday blogs with more details. Bring a friend...
Chapel worship: NOT the same as church used to be! We are recording at 9.30am every Sunday at the Chapel. Please don’t drop in! You are welcome to come (aiming to arrive by 9.15am please) but you need to reserve a space and fill in this form. Then we will tell you if we have space…. We can welcome 7 or max 8 ‘pews’ or ‘households’ of people. Bring a friend....
Small groups: We are preparing our small groups for the Fall. These will mainly be online, but we are hoping for some opportunities to gather and play in person! Bring a friend....
Not yet ready to meet with people? Not a problem. We continue to be online for church and for small groups and for opportunities to pause and chat together. If you’d like to ‘meet’ with myself or Amy online or in person please reach out. We love to hear from you.
One more thing. Do you have a few minutes to pray for others? Do you have a prayer request? Please use our prayer doc! It's a 'live' doc and we'd love you to join in! AND please send us your prayer photos #IACprays .... this week, A=ask as we P.R.A.Y.
AND - lastly - got any more questions about prayer? Please send them in... we'd love to chew over them with you!
So grateful to be your pastor,
*P.R.A.Y. from Pete Greig's book, How to pray which is the starting point for our sermon series "Hey God.." this month.