by Allison Loecke, ISP Regional Director Midwest

reflecting with John 15:9-11 

I was living and working as the director at Nazareth Farm in the spring of 2009 when a fairly large and lightweight box arrived for me. The package was from Billy, one of my former students at Xavier University, and I opened it up to find a sea of colorful plastic Easter eggs with instructions for me to open one each day starting on Easter. 

I remember laughing knowingly…Billy LOVED Easter, but he especially loved the full out 50 day liturgical celebration of Easter. Every day for 50 days Billy would greet everyone with, “Happy Easter!” At about day 10 people started giving him strange looks wondering if he needed to consult his calendar. “Isn’t Easter over?” they would ask. If the grocery store shelves teach us anything, it is that 70% off jelly beans on Monday means Easter is o-v-e-r.

And yet, Easter Sunday is just the beginning! 50 days of unbounded joy! In the Gospel reading today, it is clear that Jesus wants us to be joyful. Being a joyful person doesn’t mean ignoring pain and suffering, and it definitely doesn’t mean that we are without our own weaknesses, insecurities, fears and heartbreak. Rather it is a brave way to live in a broken world. It’s a way to say yes to the love that God so freely gives us. If you’re reading this on May 1st, there are still 18 days left of the Easter season. Make the most of them and En-Joy!

Reflection Questions: What can you do today that is joyful? How is the God of your understanding inviting you to joy this Easter? 

Allison has worked for ISP since 2021 and is the proud “cool aunt” of many nieces and nephews. She has a revolving door of foster cats in her home and is a proud supporter of her public library and many local coffee and ice cream shops. Allison dreams of Amtrak rides across the country and loves her home church of All Saints Episcopal in Chicago.