October 2022 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones,

In my September 18 sermon on belonging, I spoke about the challenge of learning to ask for help. I quoted a passage from Emergent Strategy, the 2017 book by writer, activist, facilitator, and organizer, adrienne maree brown. In this passage, brown talks about learning to ask for help. It wasn’t easy. It took practice. There were a lot of cultural norms around not sharing that got in her way. But she learned to ask, even when she knew there was no way she could return the favor to the person helping her. It changed her life. She writes: “The result of this experience is that I feel so much more woven into the world. I still anticipate independence, my default can-do self space. But I don’t want to sever any of this connecting fabric between myself and all of the incredible people who held me … saw me, corrected me, held me in my contradictions, met my needs. I want more of my life to feel this interdependent, this of community and humanity.” (I highly recommend this book!)

In a similar vein, I’d like to share with you some words from How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community, by Mia Songbird, another writer, activist, facilitator and organizer. She quotes Amoretta Morris (a wise woman she knows), who wrote: “It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, by doing so, you are taking part in the divine circle of giving and receiving. While we often focus on what the request means for the asker/recipient, we should remember that giving can be transformative for the helper…. By not asking for help when you need it, you are blocking that flow.” Mia Songbird adds: “This is one of the most liberating things I’ve ever read. We have a responsibility to each other to ask for help when we need it. Instead of listening to the fictitious lone wolf in us, we must listen to the wolf in the pack, and tap into the impulse that moves us to co-create opportunities for mutuality, opportunities to care for and be there for one another.” (I highly recommend this book!)

I’m going to continue talking about asking for help, naming our vulnerabilities, addressing our feelings of isolation, etc. As we move more fully into this post-pandemic era, our congregational community will benefit as we learn to ask for, receive, and give help. I suppose this ties in nicely with our ministry theme for October: courage. As I said in my September 18 sermon, asking for help, confessing our vulnerabilities, naming how we don’t feel like we fully belong—these are not our natural inclinations. They require practice. They require intentionality. They require courage. But the benefit, as both adrienne maree brown and Mia Songbird point out, is that we live more fully into interdependence. We feel more secure in the world. And that matters.

For now, if you’re feeling isolated, or if you’re living with vulnerabilities that you have trouble sharing, I encourage you to tell someone at UUS:E. Tell me. Tell a member of the Pastoral Friends Committee (Sally Gifford, Ellen Williams, Sid Soderholm, Sue McMillen, Gene Sestero, Ann Stowe, Peg Darrah, Laurie Semprebon). Tell someone to whom you feel close. It very well may take courage. Indeed, such feelings are often difficult to name openly. But naming them gives others a chance to respond in creative ways. And even if there is no way for us to fully address how you feel, at least someone else will know. You will be seen, held, loved. And that matters. Take courage friends!

 

With love,

Rev. JoshRev. Joshua Pawelek

September 2022 Minister’s Column

Let’s cut right to the chase: I begin my 20th year as UUS:E’s minister this summer, August 15 to be precise. No mincing of words: This is a huge milestone, not only for me, but for all of you. The average length of a parish ministry these days is ridiculously brief, 4 – 5 years. I’m not entirely sure why the average tenure is so short. It may have something to do with all the headwinds facing traditional congregations in our era—headwinds which the pandemic exacerbated. Whatever the cause, it hasn’t impacted UUS:E. Twenty years is indeed a huge milestone, and for that reason I am feeling celebratory! (I’m sure we’ll find time to celebrate at some point.)

As I have been reflecting on twenty years of ministry, two features of my experience at UUS:E stand out to me. First, UUS:E is committed to shared ministry on Sunday mornings. The full-time minister is not a full-time preacher. This means that the congregation hears wisdom and insight not only from me, but from its own members and guest speakers on a very regular basis. I firmly believe (and I’m being completely serious when I say this) my ministry has lasted so long because you don’t hear from me every Sunday. My voice is certainly prominent, but it is one voice among many. There’s a balance, a multiplicity of perspectives and approaches, a very natural and inherent worship democracy. If it were me in the pulpit every single Sunday for twenty years, no matter how much you appreciate me as your minister, there would be no balance, no pulpit diversity. It would be much harder to sustain a long-term parish ministry.

Second, over twenty years, it is possible to develop strong personal relationships with many members of the congregation. I know you. I know your stories. I know your struggles. I know your joys. I know your children, especially if they grew up at UUS:E. And not only do I know you, I know the wider community. I have strong personal relationships with clergy from many faiths, leaders from community organizations, town and state workers, activists, politicians, labor leaders, social workers, teachers, therapists, medical providers, nursing homes, funeral homes, and more. These relationships are a natural outcome of serving as a minister in one place for twenty years. They are assets one simply cannot develop in a 5-year ministry.

Along those lines, “relationship-building” and “community-building” are going to be important themes for me this year. During my study leave hours I’ve been reading writers who focus on these themes as responses to the challenges of White Supremacy culture, patriarchy, and hyper-capitalism: Mia Songbird (How We Show Up), Adrienne Marie Brown (Emergent Strategy), Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Particle and Wave and M Archive: After the Fall of the World). I was drawn to these and other resources because it is clear to me that as we slowly move from COVID as pandemic to COVID as endemic, the possibility for isolation is strong. COVID has changed our ways of interacting; and while some people are thriving in terms of community engagement, others are feeling more isolated than ever, more lost, more forgotten. It is important to me that UUS:E does everything it can to address that risk and potential for isolation within our congregation and in the wider community. You can expect to hear much more from me on this topic. As I begin my twentieth year as your minister, I am excited for the transformative ministries that we have yet to build. I hope and trust you are excited as well.

 

With love,

Rev. JoshRev. Joshua Pawelek

July 2020 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

The following reading appears in Hear the Earth Call, a collection of prayers and sermon excerpts that Duffy Schade, Sharon Gresk and I produced a number of years ago. It’s called “Digging in the Dirt,” and it strikes me as important advice for engaging with summer:

My younger son, Max, who is eighteen months old, likes digging in dirt. Over the past few months, whenever we go outside, Max grabs a plastic shovel from his shelf in the garage and enthusiastically bobs and waddles over to the three small pine trees lining our driveway. He squats at the base of the middle tree and digs in the dirt. He puts his shovel in the ground and loosens a scoop of brown, sandy earth. He lifts it slowly; he studies the scoop intently—his gaze pierces; and then very slowly he slides the dirt off the shovel back onto the ground—again and again and again. Peter Mayer has given me words for what Max is doing. He is memorizing “the pages of gravity.”

I don’t know what question Max’s young mind is really asking as he conducts this almost daily ritual, but he’s clearly asking one. His stare is so fixed, as if he’s looking for something—not something in the dirt—not a worm or a mole or an acorn or some other buried treasure. It’s as if he’s looking for the nature of dirt itself. I’ve seen him touch it, smell it, taste it, share it with others—but it’s that intense gaze which says, “I need to know what this stuff is. It’s hard and solid underfoot, but in my shovel it becomes a billion tiny pieces that flow like water. How does it do that?”

I hear it said a lot, “young children are sponges.” They are learning the world around them, taking in vast amounts of data and integrating it into their knowing. Their quest for information is very natural, very much a part of who they are. They are open, quizzical, experimental, self-directed, uninhibited, compulsive, and at times obsessive. They are firm believers in the notion there are no bad questions. They love to ask “why?” “what?” and “how?” They are sponges. We might also say they are searchers.

When it comes to adult spiritual searching, I contend the most important model we have may be that of young children learning the world for the first time. And this is good news. In some way or another, we’ve all been there before. Our bodies remember. Do you remember digging in dirt?

 

Between early July and mid-late August I will be taking approximately 6 weeks of vacation and study-leave. Stephany and I have no big plans this summer, but I certainly am looking forward to some much-needed down-time. During the summer Ellen Williams will be serving as the chairperson for the Pastoral Friends Committee. (Her contact info is in the UUS:E directory or at the UUS:E office.) You can contact her for pastoral needs. She will be in touch with me as necessary.

For now, I wish for you a wonderful summer. I wish for you many good questions—Why? What? How? I wish for you many opportunities for digging in the dirt, for returning to your spongey, childhood self, your searching self, the self that has never fully disappeared. I pray you can encounter that self this summer

 

With love,

Rev. Josh

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

 

 

June 2020 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for June is celebrating blessings. For so many reasons, this is a critical theme for us to reflect on. We ought to take time to celebrate our blessings, lest we forget the good things in our lives! But having said that, I must confess I am not feeling particularly celebratory. Like many of you, I am dreading the demise of Roe v. Wade and the coming loss, in so many states, of women’s freedom to make decisions about their own bodies. And I am dreading what will likely be attempts at the national level in future years to curtail or end those freedoms in states where they still exist. I am not feeling celebratory. I am preparing emotionally and spiritually for a long struggle. Maybe the blessing I and we need to celebrate is our capacity to know what matters most, and to do whatever is in our power to protect it. Certainly women’s freedom to make choices about what happens to their own bodies matters most. Certainly women’s health care matters most. Certainly resources for family planning, pre-and post-natal care, and a robust social safety net matter most. Yes, I can celebrate that blessing.

I am deeply saddened, enraged and fearful, in response to the May 14 White supremacist mass shooting in Buffalo. I am in touch with so many colleagues—ministers, rabbis, and imams who are similarly saddened, enraged and fearful. For weeks now, the interfaith clergy conversations have not been about mission, vision, justice, compassion and service as they usually are. The conversation has been about building security, especially for Black churches, synagogues and mosques. In the days following the Buffalo shooting, I had the privilege of helping to write a response on behalf of the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance. That statement is included in this newsletter. It features a link where you can donate to Black led organizations in Buffalo who are holding their community together in the wake of this atrocity. Maybe the blessing I and we need to celebrate is our many relationships in the wider community, relationships that serve as a source of strength and mutual aid in difficult times; relationships in which we hold others, and others hold us. Yes, I can celebrate that blessing.

I am not surprised that we’ve already had 100-degree days in May. I know a few record-breaking heat waves aren’t proof that the planet is warming, but we have the proof 1,000 times over. At the time of writing this column, I am about to meet with my UU clergy study group (our first in-person meeting since the fall of 2019). For this session, we are studying faith-based responses to the climate crisis. I am looking forward to being with colleagues, but I am dreading (there’s that word again) that feeling of overwhelm that arises when we learn just how bad the crisis is. Maybe the blessing I and we need to celebrate is that we humans, who have caused this crisis, do still have the capacity to reduce the severity of its inevitable impacts, if we can find the collective, global will. And maybe that is a blessing worth celebrating. There is something in the human spirit that can do this! Yes, I can celebrate that blessing. But it comes with a prayer: may our celebration lead to concerted, sustained, faithful action. There is much at stake.

 

With love and care,

Rev. Josh

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

May 2022 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

First: Annual Meeting! I want to remind everyone that our Annual Meeting takes place after the second service on May 15th. The meeting should be relatively short, as we are only voting on the proposed budget and slate of officers, board members and committee chairs. All voting members should have received the call to the meeting in late April. If you are a voting member and you didn’t receive the call, please contact our office.

Second: the 8th UU Principle. It had been our plan to vote at the Annual Meeting on whether or not to adopt the 8th UU principle as a congregation. However, after careful consideration, the Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee has recommended that we postpone the vote minimally until the fall. In March we had a wonderful 8th Principle workshop with Paula Cole Jones, but the workshop helped us recognize that May 15th is too soon to hold a meaningful vote. Indeed, a vote this momentous requires that we have many opportunities for study, questioning, learning and debate.

In the interest of generating understanding of and enthusiasm for the 8th Principle, the Social Justice / Anti-Oppression Committee will be offering a variety of avenues for learning. On May 1, following the second Sunday service, they will host a viewing of portions of Paula Cole Jones’ March workshop. They will also provide monthly columns in this newsletter on “Why the 8th Principle Matters to Me,” as well as links to helpful resources in our weekly eblasts.

The 8th Principle calls us to address all the ways various forms of oppression—racism, sexism, ableism, transphobia, etc.—live in our institution, and to truly center the work of confronting oppression in all aspects of our congregational life. This is a challenging but liberating call. But that is also true of the call implicit in the current seven UU principles! I hope you will take the time over the next six months to learn about the 8th Principle and why so many other congregations have adopted it.

 

Finally, our May ministry theme: Nurturing Beauty. I likely won’t be preaching directly on this theme, so I want to take a moment here to urge you to contemplate that which is beautiful in your life, to surround yourself with that beauty, and to revel, unapologetically, in that beauty. It goes without saying that life has been difficult these past few years, and there is likely more difficulty in the future. But difficulty is not, and never has been, an excuse to deprive ourselves of beauty. Wherever you encounter beauty—in nature, in a meal well-prepared, in the arts, in music, in worship, in meaningful relationships, in community, in a good book, in a unique experience—my prayer for you at the beginning of May, is that you may encounter it in abundance, that it will feed your soul, and strengthen you for whatever difficulties lay ahead.

And if you have a spare minute, please send me a note about beauty at [email protected]. I’d love to learn about the beauty that surrounds you!

 

With love,

Rev. Josh

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

 

April 2022 Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

For this month’s column, I am reaching back to a meditation I wrote about April in the early years of my ministry. This mediation appears in the book, Hear the Earth Call, which Duffy Schade, Sharon Gresk, and I published in 2017. I find it speaks well to our April ministry theme of awakening, and to all the layers of meaning we encounter in spring. It’s called “April Rains and Breezes and Muddies.” Enjoy!

***

April rains and breezes and muddies its way into our New England lives. April’s sun shines on our backs, bringing warmth, bringing moments precious, joyful and serene. We proclaim to strangers, Ah, what wonderful weather, finally, though our hearts long to say even more: I feel so alive! I am full of life. I am filled with life. I am alive all over. I am thankful, thankful, thankful for this gift of life.

Like ritual fire April purifies. Like ritual water April cleanses. April wipes our eyes clear of winter grime and grit, winter sand and salt. April wakes us up fresh and alert. Like Passover, April calls us to leave all our states of bondage, to wander, to embrace the wilderness. Like Easter, April releases us from all our blue tombs, releases us from old, outworn anxieties, leaves behind old selves, looks us forward to our lives in new shapes with new challenges.

April is a proclamation. Hear ye, hear ye! It is time to let go of those old, painful ways, those old, unfounded fears, those tired winter bodies, those touching but untenable childhood dreams, those unworkable situations that no longer serve us well. Let go and live again, a new self, a wiser self, a healed self, a truer self. Let go of that which does not matter, and in the new spaces you create, listen as April rain pours down on hard dark pavement. Listen to the rhythm of rain, the voice of Creation—Nature’s voice—and know the most important things in life—the eternal things—will always be with you through all your times of letting go, through all your times of change and transition. Listen for a moment to April and blend your spirit with the vastness. Listen for a moment to April and know you belong in this universe. Listen for a moment to April, and know you belong to life. Listen for a moment to April and know you are home.

Amen and Blessed Be.

***

As pandemic restrictions and fears continue to recede, as we continue the slow, bumpy transition to post-pandemic life, as spring arrives fully in New England, my prayer for each of you as that you will experience the spiritual potency of this season, that you will awaken. From winter’s rest into spring’s rebirth, may you awaken!

With love,Rev. Joshua Pawelek

Rev. Josh

March Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for March is renewing faith, a very appropriate theme for the month in which we conduct our Annual Appeal. Though the omicron wave is receding, we remain cautious, and will be conducting our appeal similarly to last year. Everyone will receive a small packet in the mail with the annual appeal materials. As always, we ask you to consider the value UUS:E holds in your life and your family’s life. Related to our monthly ministry theme, how does your connection to UUS:E inspire faithfulness in you? In what do you have faith? What is your solid ground, your rock? What is ultimately reliable in your life and how does UUS:E help you pay attention to it? I encourage you to share your answers to these questions with me directly at [email protected] or 860-652-8961. I am always interested to hear from you. (Of course, anything you share may end up in a sermon on Sunday morning!!!)

And as always, we ask that you return your pledge form in as timely a manner as possible so the Stewardship Committee can do its work on behalf of the congregation.

The Policy Board’s goals for this year’s appeal are modest. As always, we continue to insure that we compensate our staff in accordance with the UUA’s guidance for our geographic area. Throughout the pandemic our staff has been nothing short of amazing. They have adapted and pivoted in response to changing circumstances. They have been flexible, nimble, patient and compassionate. They have been willing to learn new skills, new ways of working and, more fundamentally, new ways of being. I am truly grateful for them. I hope and trust you are grateful as well. Please take a moment to check out the videos the staff have prepared for the annual appeal. Watch our regular eblasts for links.

Beyond our personnel goals, we are urging a modest increase in our giving so that we can continue to support vibrant programming, such as our March 20 “Creating a Culture of Inclusion” workshop with Paula Cole Jones; or a specialized workshop on trauma later this spring with CB Beal; or re-starting our in-person UUS:E concert series, including a special performance of the New World Trio in early April and a Meeting House concert later this spring at our goods and services auction. There’s so much more to talk about—pastoral care, social justice and anti-oppression work, sustainable living, building relationships in the wider community, growing in our diversity, fulfilling the promise of our faith.

Once again, I encourage you to reach out to me if you want to talk about the value UUS:E holds in your life and how it informs your sense of faith. Thank you for your continued commitment to UUS:E and your generosity toward this year’s annual appeal. We can’t do what we do without you!!

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

Rev. Josh

February Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for February is “Widening the Circle.” This language comes explicitly from the 2020 report from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Commission on Institutional Change (COIC), entitled Widening the Circle of Concern. COIC, which convened in 2017, was charged with “supporting long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism.” The work of the commission included conducting an audit of the power structures within Unitarian Universalism in an attempt to understand how they perpetuate systemic racism and white supremacy culture. A group of about 15 UUS:E members and friends is studying the COIC report during the first half of 2022. If you would like to join that group, the invitation is open. (See the announcement in this newsletter.)

I know it sometimes feels like all we talk about is racism and white supremacy culture. We spent a year educating ourselves in advance of passing a resolution in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. We spent a year educating ourselves to become a Sanctuary congregation. We promote antiracism workshops and build partnerships with antiracist organizations such as Power Up, Moral Monday CT, the Domestic Worker Justice Campaign and Recovery for All. We are beginning to build relationships with indigenous groups in CT, such as UConn’s Native American student organization. Soon we will be exploring whether or not to adopt the proposed 8th UU principle, which asserts that we will conduct the life of our congregation in antiracist, anti-oppressive ways. That’s a lot! Trust me, I know people don’t necessarily come to church to have this conversation. I know it is sometimes a very uncomfortable conversation. I know the conversation can grow tiring, not only for White people but for People of Color as well.

There is an existential reason the Unitarian Universalist Association is focusing so much time and energy on antiracist and anti-oppressive transformation in our congregations. The writing is on the wall, so to speak. Racial demographics are changing rapidly in the United States. If our congregations don’t figure out how to move beyond a White, European-centered culture, we won’t stay relevant. In fact, we won’t survive. I don’t say that to be dramatic. I say it because it’s true. We owe it to future generations of Unitarian Universalists to engage in antiracism work now.

There’s also a spiritual reason for this focus. When we consider our current racial demographics, it becomes obvious that Unitarian Universalism is failing to extend its good news, its free faith, its liberating message to all but a handful of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Somehow we aren’t advancing the promise of our principles. The truth is, we do have good news! We do have a free faith! We do have a liberating message. We owe it to the world to figure out how to extend that message in culturally relevant ways. I don’t claim to have the answers. But I know we have to be in the conversation—in multiple ways, often, even when it is tiring, even when we’d rather just sink into the comfort of our community as it currently is. Widening the circle is a spiritual imperative. So we continue, as best we can, in faith and with love.

If you have thoughts or instincts about ways in which you’d like to participate in the work of widening the circle at UUS:E, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 860-652-8961.

 

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

With love,

Rev. Josh

Minister’s Column January 2022

Dear Ones:

Our Ministry theme for January is living with intention. I was struck by a quote from Katie Covey, who serves as Director of Religious Education for Soul Matters. (Soul Matters is the independent UU resource center that provides theme-based worship and religious education materials.) She said that living with intention is different from setting goals or resolutions. Living with intention “pulls us into” who we truly are. Goals and resolutions “push us out” into future possibilities. While I’m not sure this distinction works in all cases, I find it very helpful. Do we want to change some aspect of who we are? Do we want, in essence, to be different from our current self? Do we want to fix something we don’t like about ourselves? If so, then let’s set a goal or make a resolution. And, with discipline, let’s work to achieve it. That’s how I understand the point of the traditional New Year’s resolution.

However, if our longing is to become more fully who we are—if we want to hone or deepen dimensions of our self that we like, dimensions that give us a sense of meaning and purpose, then let’s practice living with intention.

The poet David Whyte tells the story of a visit to a remote monastery high in the Himalayas. In the darkness, while waiting for one of his traveling companions to find a flashlight, he bumped into a carved statue, smiling, beaming with compassion, a temple guardian or Vajrapani. There were easily 100 of them in that dark hall. The encounter was very moving, an invitation to vulnerability. In response he wrote the poem, “The Faces at Braga.” Here’s an excerpt:

If only our own faces / would allow the inevitable carver’s hand / to bring the deep grain of love to the surface,

If only we knew / as the carver knew, how the flaws / in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

We would smile too / and not need faces immobilized / by fear and the weight of things undone….

If only we could give ourselves / to the blows of the carver’s hands, / the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers,

Feeding the sea / where voices meet, praising the features / of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.

Perhaps living with intention is like this—allowing the carver to bring the deep grains of love to the surface. Not trying to overcome or master our flaws, but allowing them to teach us self-acceptance and love for who we truly are. It’s not setting a goal to become someone different. Rather, this living with intention is more a process of listening inwardly, looking inwardly, discovering our core, and, over time, letting it manifest outwardly.

What grains of love might the carver bring to the surface of you? And if the lines in your face traced rivers feeding the sea where voices meet, what features would they praise? What features of you matter most to you? I invite you to ponder these questions as we embark on 2022. In doing so, may you live with intention.

 

 

With love,

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

Rev. Josh

 

Minister’s Column December 2021

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for December is joy. I thought it might be interesting to review my newsletter column the last time I wrote about joy, which was five years ago, December of 2016.

I said that joy was “not high on my emotional list these days.” That comment was a response to the 2016 presidential election. I don’t like to admit it, but after nearly 2 years of pandemic living, and after every demoralizing, painful, unnerving, frightening thing that has happened since December of 2016, that comment remains true and, if possible, is more true. Joy—real, genuine, heart-felt JOY—is hard to come by. In 2016 I urged us to cultivate joy in the midst of our blues. I said “cultivating joy is essential … not only as a foundation for engagement in the wider world, but [for sustaining] our health and well-being … our sense of confidence … our sense of self-worth, and our capacity for hope.” Then I shared my responses to the question “What brings joy to my life?”

Some of the answers I gave then have not really been available during the pandemic, like “playing the drums in worship,” “hearing people laugh when I’m preaching,” and “a good night’s sleep.” But for the most part, my sources of joy continue to bless my life. In that list I included:

  • Working with the UUS:E staff.
  • Yard work, as long as everyone’s willing to help.
  • A day off.
  • A meaningful pastoral visit.
  • Watching my sons do something creative I don’t expect them to do.
  • Watching leaves fall.
  • The darkness of this late autumn/early winter season.
  • My wife’s rock-solidness—mind, soul, body.
  • A good book.
  • Great colleagues, UU and non-UU alike.
  • 153 West Vernon St. on Elm Hill in Manchester, East of the Connecticut River.

There were more items on the list, but these stand out to me from five years ago.

I wondered if living through the pandemic has brought different kinds of joy to my life. I don’t think it has. But certainly there are new sources of joy—most importantly, the joy of watching my kids slowly become adults. The older one is discerning who he is after high school, finding his place on a college campus and figuring out his academic major. The other is challenging himself to succeed in a number of sports, making new friends, and participating in the Affirmation class at UUS:E. Watching them mature brings me joy. Perhaps this joy is more intense because of the pandemic, but I suspect I would have experienced it even if there’d never been a pandemic.

Let me ask you: What brings joy to your life? Send me a note. Give me a call. I’d like to hear your answer to this question. And more than that, as we are entering the “season of joy,” can you bring your answers into the forefront of your living in this season and beyond? I really do believe cultivating joy is essential for our health and well-being, our confidence and self-worth, and our capacity for hope.

My prayer for each of us this holiday season is that we may experience abundant, unbridled joy!

With love,

Rev. Joshua Pawelek

Rev. Josh