The theme for this third week of Advent is Joy and I have to admit that I’m really, really, struggling to lean into the joy of the Good News. I know, I know, I’m a priest, I shouldn’t admit such things. I’m supposed to be a spiritual role model. But it’s true: this has been what feels like the most difficult year of all time. Everything I thought I knew about, well, everything, has been called into question and I just want to crawl into my blanket fort and hide.
And hiding in my fort, with the storm of life raging, I’m thinking about what I could possibly say about Joy that doesn’t sound syrupy and fake. And, so, I do as I know and I turn to the words of God’s story to shape the words I will use.
In the Daily Office reading, I hear Isaiah saying that we who walk in darkness have a great light for a child is born who brings us heaven on earth; and Peter tells me to be attentive to this lamp shining in dark places; and Jesus reminds me that God’s love is the most powerful force in heaven and earth.
As my heart and mind ponder this all powerful light of Love, I remember a painting of Mary and Elizabeth that always makes me smile.
When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth with the news of how God has interrupted all that she thought she knew about, well, everything, Elizabeth exclaims that the child in her womb leaps with joy.
I think I can feel my inner-child of God making the tiniest of joyful leaps, reminding me of who and whose I am. Through the words of Isaiah and Peter and Jesus I am remembering the joy that comes with the birth of our Savior and the daily rebirth of the child of God in all of us as we let the light of God’s love shine.
This great joy proclaimed by prophets and angels and the people of God comes from within, from that God shaped center of all of us. It is not temporary. It is not fleeting. It is enduring and life giving and healing. It is the still small voice saying to each of us, “you are my beloved child” and knowing that is enough.
So, for me, today, as I peak through my blanket fort to see if the coast is clear, joy is knowing that regardless of the storm, God’s love is the most power force on earth. Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, God’s love is in us. This Good News isn’t syrupy or fake. It is the most concrete reality of all time.
I’m going to fold up my fort and do what is mine to do this day by the light of the pink (forgive me, Fr. Rick, but to me the word pink is more joyful than the word rose) candle on the Advent wreath. Perhaps I’ll make some pancakes.