A picture of Reverend Christine at the pulpit during her installation ceremony

Joys and Sorrows is one of the most sacred times in our worship service. It is a time when the abstract hurts and happiness can be stated out loud within the community. They are ways for us to provide support, celebrate and connect. They are poignant reminders that–any given week–we are each holding concerns, heartbreak, excitement and fear in our hearts. It reminds us of the precariousness of being human.

In the four years that I’ve been here, we’ve had a lot of transitions with our Joys and Sorrows in our worship service. To be honest, at the beginning of our online time, I was just grateful if anyone would post anything so I could know you were there. And then, when it got deeper into the isolation, it was great to connect with any small joys of getting vaccines or seeing relatives, or getting out.

We are 3 and a half years after our shut down and we’ll never see “normal” again, although it does seem that we’ve reached our new UUCP worship normal–with some folks here and lots of folks watching online.

But with that revised normal, I think it’s good to revisit what is appropriate for Joys and Sorrows so that we can all be on the same page.

  • It Should Be Yours. Your joy or concern needs to be from you, or you must have explicit permission from a person to share it from the pulpit. This is especially important since our services are recorded and available. Consent is always important, but especially when sharing personal information.
  • Share the Air. If you are a person who shares a joy or sorrow often, maybe refrain so that others can speak up. If you haven’t shared one in the past, maybe it is something brave you can try.
  • This Is not Coffee Hour. Joys and Sorrows shouldn’t be updates or informational. They should be true Joys and Sorrows.
  • This Isn’t Announcements. If your joy or sorrow is actually an announcement for something happening at UUCP or the wider community, there are other vehicles for sharing that.
  • This isn’t “The News”. While many of us will be concerned with what is happening in the wider world, this isn’t the time to share what in the news, politics, or weather has us concerned. Joys and Sorrows are personal.
  • Fit Our Values. There may be some joys and sorrows that may not fit our values and the Minister or Worship Leader may decide not to include it. This may include things that you might know or things that you might not think of. For example, a joy about a weight loss or a gender-reveal party may seem fine to you but could be problematic for others.

With all of this, the Minister or Worship Leader has the responsibility and opportunity to not include a Joy or Sorrow for these reasons (or for others that haven’t occurred to us yet). Also, we ask for grace as the Minister or Worship leader is managing these in real-time and may mess up on any of the above rules or anything else. If we hurt your feelings, please let us know so we can apologize.

Thank you for helping us all to make Joys and Sorrows to continue to be a meaningful part of our worship as we do the sacred work of humaning together.