This advent I’ve been preaching on Joy – hopeful joy, loving joy, unabashed joy, and today will be peaceful joy.
Hopeful joy – I shared how we can find hope and joy in the most unexpected places. I had a memorial service the day before and so I was able to share how even in the darkest places – yes, even in the death of a loved one – we can often find hopeful joy. We may not see it at first but often if we look hard enough it’s there, perhaps as we gather with those we don’t often see or those we haven’t seen in years, or in an old church that is struggling to stay open but is filled to overflowing and voices are lifted in song filling building with new life.
Loving Joy – I was able to share how just the week before I witnessed loving joy as a non-church member neighbor came to the parking lot to fill our “Little Pantry” to overflowing. The joy that shone on her face as she shared what she had with her neighbors was definitely loving joy. As she shared with me what it meant to her to be able to give back when she had been given the same was beautiful and filled me with loving and hopeful joy!
Unabashed Joy – we were not able to meet this week due to weather, but I did share in an email and on our Facebook page about this joy that just cannot be contained. The joy Mary must have felt knowing she was going to give birth to God’s son who was going to come and change the world!
And Peaceful joy – today. This morning as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I began reflecting once again on this peaceful joy and what it is and I couldn’t help but feel the peaceful joy of knowing my little family is all under one roof, even if only for a day a two.
I found myself not just reflecting on peaceful joy in that moment but on them all and how I experience every one of them through children – mine, my sibling’s, my friend’s, my neighbor’s and even the stranger’s! Children give us such joy. I see hope for the future as I watch them grow and love as I watch them care for those around them. I feel unabashed joy as I watch them succeed – whether it’s their first steps, their first spoken word or read word all the way to graduations, and jobs! And Peaceful Joy comes in sitting back watching them care – for each other, their family, their community, their environment. Peace comes as we realize that, yeah, there is hope, there is love, there is complete, unabashed joy in this next generation and it’s going to be okay.
It is going to be okay. Christ is in each and every child in this world whether they or we know it or not. He is working in them and through them. It’s our responsibility to encourage them, to walk alongside them. To experience life with them. To get to know them. To listen to them.
Christmas eve I will preach about Incarnate Joy. I haven’t even begun to really think about it yet… I’m a one sermon at a time kind of gal… but as I sit here typing this I realize that yeah, THIS is Incarnate Joy – seeing Christ in others, ALL others. Those who disagree with us, those who look different than us, those who believe differently than us, those who understand things differently than us, and those who are just like us!
Christ is in each and every one of us and as we learn to embrace that with hopeful, loving, unabashed (joyful) and peaceful joy, God’s Kingdom, his Reign will be revealed to us, right here on earth. We won’t have to wait anymore because our eyes will be opened to the Kingdom or the Kin-dom that we already live in. Christ is still calling us to Wake Up! For the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! If only we open our eyes to see it, to live it, to abide in it today. Stop waiting and live it today.