Rejoice in God’s Blessing of Love
The lighting of the pink candle on our Advent wreaths is a sign of JOY! We are midway through the season of Advent and our reading from the prophet Isaiah promises: “Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.” Are we ready to be joyful, even when our hearts aren’t in it? If we are paying attention to the news these days, we read and hear about fires and earthquakes, wars and violence, and all kinds of suffering. The pictures of a Mennonite church filled to capacity with refugee women and children tug at our hearts. This is today’s Nativity scene where there is no room in the inn. Many in our families are suffering from the loss of loved ones this year, from anxiety, and from the end of meaningful relationships. Maybe our hearts aren’t into real joy!
When will I experience joy again? I hear this profound and anxious question often, especially during this season. Perhaps the readings this weekend will restore and heal, renew and give life again. While happiness is based on externals and transient experiences, joy comes from our interior life, from deep rootedness. How is our relationship with Jesus growing? Do we believe in God’s lavish love? God’s blessing? Can we BE hope for others? How do we give and receive mercy?
In Advent, we envision the desert blooming, in fullness and abundance! What a contradiction! We see natural enemies in nature, the lion and the lamb, lying together in playful peace. We wait patiently, like the farmer, for the land to yield fruit. And we watch hopefully for those same signs Jesus offered his followers: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and good news is proclaimed to the poor. Joyful waiting is very different from Christmas’ instant gratification. What has brought us joy and gladness thus far in this Advent season?
We ask God to give us that joy that the world cannot give, a joy that is deeply rooted in our faith in God, in our trusting that God will bring us to fullness of life. May our hearts rejoice and bloom with joyful song. May we recognize in Jesus the one whom we await, the one who has come to heal and to save. And may God’s grace draw us closer and closer as a community.