This week’s newsletter is especially for the parents. The parents who are struggling to keep it all together. The parents who are experiencing sadness or grief even as the Christmas carols play on an endless loop.

By The Reverend Christine V. Hides

In the midst of the holiday cheer there can also be a sense of loneliness and loss. For those whose feelings can’t be summed up in a simple “fine,” I offer three resources and a word on joy:

Joy is the theme of the third week in Advent. Many people differentiate happiness from joy. Happiness is often described as a more temporary feeling. Joy is a state of peace, gratitude, connectedness, and well-being that can be experienced even in sadness. Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit, a divine gift found through relationships with God and neighbor.

This week’s Advent readers lit the candle of joy and read these words: “The poet Madeline L’Engle said, ‘We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, for to share our grief, to touch our pain, God came with love. Rejoice! Rejoice!’…When we light the candle of joy, we celebrate the one who has come, is coming and will come again.”

May you know the deep peace, hope, and joy of Christ today and always.

Below is the Psalm 23 artwork assembled by Laurie Walker, using art made by the kids in Sunday school.