March Newsletter | May This Be Your Fruit-Bearing Season

Deaconess Community,

Joy has been on my mind, and I can sense that 2024 will be a season of fruit-bearing. In a recurring column published in The St. Louis American this week I shared the following…

The calendar has turned, and the new year is off and running. We have the first months of 2024 to assess if the new year intentions we made are on pace or need a bit more giddyap. However broad or specific our goals, desires, or ambitions may be, they will all require the fuel that only joy can bring. May 2024 be your fruit-bearing season rooted in joy.

Joy is a potent force, capable of nourishing us beyond mere happiness which is wonderful and necessary. However, unlike many people, achieving happiness is not my pursuit. Happiness is fleeting and is all too often based on emotions and the satisfaction I feel dictated by my present circumstances.

Joy is a fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in us that is not based on outward happenings or inward musings. Joy is a state of being. Joy is an inner contentment and a wellspring meant to bubble up and overflow in and through us. Joy is the armor we must wear given the anticipated challenges that this year poses from elections to climate conditions to workplace struggles and unexpected upheavals of all kinds. Joy is not to be underestimated. Joy is essential. Joy is eternal. The elders remind us that, “This joy I have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

Particularly in the face of this hope-stealing environment that barks at us who we cannot be and the impossibility of trying something radically new, joy fuels faith, destroys doubt, calms anxiety, and roots us in endless possibility. Joy is a magnet that attracts power, inspiration, and peace.

Peace is not meant to be chased in an elusive pursuit. The Holy Writ shares that the peace of God is another fruit the Spirit bears that should “rule our hearts.” This kind of peace is viewed as an umpire who calls the balls and the strikes in our lives.

Peace moves us from focusing on putting out daily fires to building toward a liberated future. It’s what keeps rest sustainable and in abundant supply. Peace keeps us in tune with one another in beloved community. It’s a defender of joy and an amplifier of purpose. Peace is evidence of shalom which encompasses wholeness, harmony, and health.

The elders sang well to us: “When peace like a river attendeth my way…whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say it is well with my soul.”

Faith is another fruit that the just live by. We grassroots organizers, faith leaders, healers, visionaries, disruptors, artists, executives, entrepreneurs, and caregivers are among the just. It takes faith and power beyond eyesight and mortal might to envision it, but this spiritual fruit generates a thriving region and world that moves us from possible to probable to inevitable.

Faith serves as eyes to see what is beyond brick and mortar or beyond an election cycle. Faith turns “what is” to “what if.” It carries us through our rage, lamentation, and our losses. Faith is the confident expectation that the well-being of our people and the justice that we fight for is just within reach. Faith is the conqueror of doubt and unbelief. Our bi-state region suffers from a lingering bout of having an inferiority complex rooted in doubt and unbelief. Doubt is questioning what you believe. Unbelief is a determined refusal to believe.

And what if some don’t believe? Faith doesn’t require the permission of the masses. Movement begins with the agreement of two or three or the faithful few. To all the architects of a just future, may this be the year that the hard work pays off. May this be your season of mountain-moving faith that allows you to realize the miraculous in the presence of the naysayers. The elders were unwavering and right when they hummed, “We’ve come this far by faith…”

Originally published: March 10, 2024. See here.

In service to the will of the Spirit and the mission,

Bethany Johnson-Javois
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation

Read the full March newsletter here.