Last weekend we had a big Christmas party at our home. It's an annual event my housemates and I have put on for the past three years - and we love it. We invite our neighbours, friends, family, co-workers - basically everyone and anyone we are connected to - and then we welcome them to bring others along. For me, it's a foretaste of heaven, and it's a joy to participate.
Well, it's mostly a joy. It's definitely a joy in theory, but sometimes, in the moment, it's different.
This year I had to work the day of our party. I knew this would be the case ahead of time, and after a brief, unsuccessful lobbying attempt to switch the date, I conceded, figuring I would be able to tap into an endless abundance of holiday spirit. Unfortunately on the day this wasn't the case. Sometime between leaving work and arriving at home a grumpy, tired and annoyed Melissa came out to play. Let's just say she's not very fun, or joyful. And suddenly she was not impressed that she was arriving home at 6:30pm for a party that started at 7:15pm. And she made sure that everyone around her knew that she was not happy.
I assume most normal human beings can deal with their emotions. I obviously have some maturing to do, because although I was aware of what I was doing - even while I was doing it - I didn't make any efforts to change it. I stewed in my negativity, and, frankly, I kind of liked being all riled up. Thankfully, I smartened up when the party guests started arriving - but I was very aware of one key fact, which I wanted to share.
I realized, through this experience, that how we enter into a particular moment greatly impacts everything that happens in that moment.
I entered our Christmas party quite negative, and that raw emotion, even when not overtly present, still underlay every part of the event I was involved in. Conversations felt different, my ability and desire to care about others was lower than normal, and my housemates were forced to bear the emotional garbage I spewed when I walked in.
I wonder if you as a deacon have experienced that? Have you ever headed into a meeting being annoyed about something on the agenda - or upset that something hadn't been accomplished since the last meeting - or tired because life has been busy? Have you ever set out to help someone only to enter the opportunity with preconceived notions - or frustrated because the person "never learned" and is back asking for more - or hurried because you don't want to have any difficult conversations?
What I would like you to see is that how we come is of infinite importance.
Imagine entering each moment with peace, joy, hope, excitement, curiosity, humility, or love. How would that shape your experience of that situation? How would it affect the others who share that moment with you? Might it change what happens and how it happens for the better?
Obviously I think the answer is yes. Shall we dare to experiment?