Some of this blog might sound trite or naive, but it’s neither. This week’s reflection is composed with the lectionary in mind, and following a rather dramatically hostile day at the hospital. Yet I choose joy, because I really believe we are beloved of God. Only in this relationship can we experience true joy, ever.
I think joy is misunderstood. I don’t think it is happiness magnified so much as it is life embraced. It isn’t a fleeting feeling of ecstasy or amusement, either. Joy takes root deep inside a person’s soul and blossoms into strength and wisdom that keeps one grounded when tragedy and chaos strike. Joy is part gift and part hard work.
It is easier to focus on the horrors. Another shooting rampage (this one in Oregon). Syria firing missiles at rebels. North Korea testing missiles. An Egyptian blogger jailed for blasphemy. A human mind tortured by mental illness. Looking for joy is challenging.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I believe these words from Philippians are at the core of the Advent message. We are preparing for Christ to come anew. We are anticipating Christ’s return. But Christ is already here. So rejoice! Breathe. Be gentle with everyone including yourself. And stop worrying. It’s a choice to celebrate Christ’s presence even when things are painful and messy.
I have often begun worship with an invitation to worshippers to share things for which they are grateful. There is never silence. If people in a psychiatric facility can find joy then there’s hope for the rest of us. The good news of Advent is that we are already Beloved. Christ has claimed us.
We worship and participate in the seasons of the church to remind ourselves of the ancient story and our place in it. In this season let us remember all that Christ has done for us and choose to rejoice.
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength
and my might;
he has become my salvation.
RCL – Year C – Third Sunday of Advent – December 16, 2012