28 Mar 2022 REFLECTION 5: Mourning & Rejoicing
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Romans 12: 14-15
Rejoice with. Mourn with. Emphasizing “with” helps us recognize that expressing solidarity is more than a distant recognition of what someone else is going through. It requires changing something about our own life so that we can identify more closely with theirs. This verse is an invitation to join with others in their struggles and joys.
Rejoicing and mourning often co-exist in our emotional landscape, which makes showing up for others even more complex. Our ministry partners in East Africa embrace this complexity constantly as they work closely with the kids. For example, when they do home visits, they always ask how consistently the family is eating. If they are not eating every day, or only once a day, that is a reason to mourn and to help. If they have enough food, that’s a joy! Yet even when kids are eating consistently, there is relief and gratitude alongside sadness and concern, because they know that the next time they check in, the situation may be dire again.
Rejoicing and mourning may feel like opposite extremes, yet they are often intertwined within us and around us. At a gathering of any size, rejoicing and mourning are present somewhere, along with everything in between. As we grow in our capacity to share life together as a community of faith, we find ourselves entering into the joy and pain of others. It is messy, complex, and so very powerful. When we embrace this aspect of solidarity, we are communicating, “You matter to me. You are seen. What you are going through is important.”
Rice & Beans Month is a chance to express solidarity through our food choices. It is also a chance to deepen our understanding of what causes our family in East Africa to rejoice and to mourn. May our practice of solidarity expand beyond our plates and into our hearts.
Questions: Describe a time when someone joined with you, either in rejoicing or mourning or both. How did that impact you? How have you been able to do the same for someone else?
Prayer: God of rejoicing and God of mourning, we are still learning how to show up for these experiences within ourselves and in the lives of others. As we learn, help us to sense your presence and convey your love. Use our experiences of empathy and solidarity to deepen our love for self, for others, and for you. Amen.
Here are a few more scriptures for further meditation on our theme for this week:
I Peter 3:8