Unexpected Joy in Our Communities, Part 2

By Beth Casebolt

image of a brown and orange butterfly on a yellow flower in a garden

When I meet with congregational leaders, as we talk about the challenges the congregation is facing, and resources or trainings they might need, at some point I usually ask the question, Where are you finding unexpected joy in your congregation this year? This question usually causes a pause for everyone to think before the answers come. Sometimes everyone has things to contribute. Sometimes only one or two folx do. But I've never had a meeting where someone didn't have an unexpected joy to share.

When I ask about this, I mean things that you didn't expect to make you feel joyful. If water communion or flower communion is a highlight and a joy of yours every year, this is not unexpected joy - in fact if you didn't feel joyful afterwards, you would be disappointed. I am talking about the times that made you feel joyful that you didn't expect. Not every one will agree on what is an unexpected joy. I once had a finance chair tell me their unexpected joy was when the pledges came in higher than they estimated. And someone who thought the sound of the young children in the sanctuary was a joy while another member of the group felt it was not. We all have our personal preferences and what is meaningful to us. It's fine to disagree.

Back in September, I wrote a blog post titled Finding Unexpected Joy, that ended with this request for the upcoming church year:

As we start our new church year, take time to find the unexpected joy that shows up in our communities. What flowers are growing in your community that you didn't know you planted? What unexpected visitors may you have in your community? Where is your unexpected joy?

Now that the church year nearly over, I want to ask did you find any unexpected joy this year in your church community? Where is your unexpected joy?

Perhaps at your next board, committee or staff meeting or gathering you could go around the group and ask each participant, What in our church community brought you unexpected joy this year?

The answers may surprise you, they may inspire you and they may cause you to think differently about how your community comes together. Maybe those unexpected joys can point to new ways of being in community or familiar ways that need highlighted and supported.

May you find and celebrate the unexpected joy in your community this year.

As a note, the UUA is closed on Monday, April 15 for Patriot's Day. There will not be a Better Together post next week, but the blog will return on Monday, April 22.

About the Author

Beth Casebolt

Beth Casebolt is the Operations Manager and Communications Consultant for the Central East Region. Prior to regionalization she served as the District Administrator for the Ohio-Meadville District, a position she started in November 2007. She is very interested in universal design, websites & more.

For more information contact .