After arriving in Indianapolis and attending Joy of All Who Sorrow, I discovered the people in this church are a true reflection of what it means to be a community. After each Sunday morning Divine Liturgy, we make our way to the hall for a group lunch. This routine helps to get to know people quickly and builds community in a way that nothing else does. Please join us for the liturgy (9 a.m.) or the lunch (11 ish a.m.) or both.
But wait! There’s more. This community has been built and sustained by people who have known each other for more than 30 years. New members are welcomed warmly – all members are cared for and treasured. The use of gifts and talents are encouraged and appreciated. Working together on various projects teaches us to appreciate each other and defer to each other.
However, I don’t pretend that it is a utopia. Learning to appreciate each other’s gifts can reveal previously hidden jealousies. Treasuring one another can bring you close enough to see (and be hurt by) each other’s faults. The difference that I have found in Joy is that members, for the most part, do not want to wallow in their pain or anger. They are anxious to repent and repair. Relationship and community is of utmost importance – reflecting the nature of Christ to others is top priority. Does that mean you should love everyone? Yes – with the love of Christ. Does that mean you must like everyone? Not necessarily, but you strive to be cordial, even to those who cause you to bristle. We are community, but we are also flawed human beings.
When we find true friendship among each other, we rejoice. When we find challenging people, we turn to prayer – for ourselves to be able to see that person as Christ sees them and for God to bless that person richly.
We also turn to Scripture, where it tells us that if someone has hurt us, we are to forgive them. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14
But even if we are not the injured party, we still need to initiate reconciliation. “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23 – 24.
So, there is no excuse, I must be at peace with all – to the extent that Christ requires it. For me, that’s a full-time job! It’s a constant attempt to walk with Christ, to reflect his nature, to pray, to reconcile and be reconciled. It’s also a failure at all of the above, and a picking myself up and trying again. And it’s a constant appreciation of all who attend Joy of All Who Sorrow. I am grateful to all of you for being the community that you are.
The icon is of the reconciliation of St. Paul and St. Peter after a dispute. God intervened and the men were able to reconciliate.
Anna Glass is a member of Joy of All Who Sorrow. She serves on the Board and on the Capital Campaign Steering Committee. Please send comments on the blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.