Encouragement for the Journey 7 / 12 / 14

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Encouragement for the Journey 7 / 12 / 14

Encouragement for the Journey

Church Christmas Tree 2013

Greetings fellow traveller,

Today is the 2nd Sunday in Advent with its theme of Joy. It is also KIDS N ALL, which is always a joyful worship experience. But wait there’s more; this morning is very special for the Community of St Aidans. Today we welcome with great joy Roxy and Mark Gahegan into the life of our community. I am sure you are aware Roxy is our intern for the coming year and she will be involved in all aspects of our community life and mission. Roxy will be officially commissioned at our Café Church on Sunday 21st December. Welcome Roxy and Mark your presence is greatly anticipated.

Joy such a little word, yet it wields great power in our lives. This week I discovered excerpts from a book written by Laurel Mellin, with the great title ‘Wired for Joy!’ I found it fascinating and I offer it to you:

The human brain has an amazing capacity to create joy not by chance, but by choice. Everyone has the equipment to do this – and it is uniquely human. Unlike other animals, the human brain has multiple strong connections between areas of conscious thought and pleasure. The thinking brain – the seat of consciousness – is strongly linked to the emotional brain, where pleasure centres abound. You can learn to use your consciousness to send chemicals and electricity through these connections and create ripples of pleasure that you feel in your body.

 There are only two glitches. First, the message that arouses such pleasure cannot be about eating ice cream, sipping fine wine, or buying the latest shoes. It can’t be anything you acquire, ingest, or inject. Instead, that pleasure comes from the desire to be of service, to do good. Our hunter – gatherer ancestors survived based on their capacity to co-operate and share. As a result, this joy response evolved over the millennia to ensure the survival of the species. When you take action that favours the greater good, you are rewarded in the moment. A pulse of feel – good chemicals affixes to special receptors in the brain’s rewards centres, and you experience a surge of peace, power, and pleasure in your body.

 Second, the system of creating bliss on demand breaks down during stress. Stress hormones affect your motivations, because you are in survival mode. Forget about compassion. Instead, you focus on surviving the moment, doing whatever it takes. In that stressed state your brain is not functioning well.’

 The above is so applicable for this time of the year. When stress comes, joy dissipates. We cannot be in a state of joy and stress at the same time. Let us continue to do good when and wherever we can and to be aware of our stress levels. Our natural joy may be the most effective way to combat stress during this Advent and Christmas season.’

Meanwhile Peace and Joy

Alf