Looking at the date, I realize how tardy I am into the third week of Advent and I am just now settling into my week’s blog notes. This sets off a huge warning in my head that maybe I am letting the holiday hubbub overpower my days.
Sunday the worship service included the children’s program. As a cradle Methodist, the traditional images that greeted me seemed so familiar. I know the story, I know the characters, and I recognize the costumes.
Sometimes it is easy to overlook the significance of the Advent season because we become so accustomed to the entire hubbub: decorations, music, store sales, food, and family routines. Then there are those moments when the proverbial “reason for the season” slams right into the middle of everything.
That is how I felt Sunday as I watched the kiddos putting the 2018 twist to the ancient Christmas story. It was joy-filled.
Advent readings take us through the biblical story and we learn that the ancient people maintained hope for the arrival of a messiah. Their mindset might have been described in any variety of ways: downtrodden, tired, exhausted, victimized (as we might call it today), depressed, perplexed, questioning.
For generations, thousands of years, they maintained hope that their plight would be relieved when some one man would step in and fix things. They hadhope.
Even today, we can identify with these ancient Israelites. Not one of us can live day in and day out without times of feeling the very same: downtrodden, weary, depressed, and so on. We struggle to manage the daily ups and downs. Yet when one has hope, those days are placed into a perspective as one discovers the value of hope plays in finding solutions.
During the second week of Advent, the theme focused on peace. As one discovers that hope makes daily life manageable, one begins to realize that accepting God’s grace and living within that framework fuels hope.
But what does having hope have to do with peace? When we accept the reality of God and the relationship we have with him, we develop hope to manage the daily trials. Turning over our need to control to God and allowing our lives to center on God, we discover peace within our personal lives.
As the kiddos were singing and managing their time on stage, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were filling the seats anticipating a performance filled with tradition. A tradition that reminds us that when one has hope, all the rough times in life are of little concern and we are at peace.
But back to Sunday’s program: The kiddos turned their backs on the crowd and as they introduced the various characters in the story, the audience broke out in a joyful reaction as the sound of the current kid’s hit, Baby Shark, became the refrain: doo doo doo doo doo doo . . . Mother Mary, Father Joseph, Baby Lambs, Shepherds, Wise Men, and Baby Jesus doo doo doo doo doo. [Check the You Tube video to get an audio-visual of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w]
When we discover that we have hope and peace, we also realize that our lives are joy-filled. We see this world through the filter of Jesus Christ and when we suddenly see the ancient story set to the music of Baby Shark, we experiencejoy.
Week three of Advent focuses on the theme joy. The season of preparation is also teaching us what it feels to be joy-filled. Joy is an abstract noun meaning there is no way to touch, feel, taste, smell or see what it really is, but joyis real.
Returning to the Oxford Dictionary on line, joyis defined as:
A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
1.1count noun A thing that causes joy.
1.2British informal usually with negative Success or satisfaction.
Middle English: from Old French joie, based on Latin gaudium, from gaudere ‘rejoice’.
Obviously this is a noun with no shape or volume, no concrete form to pick up and carry around. But how we try.
Joycomes in a wide-range of colors, and during Advent one might think it is red and green while others may think gold and silver and some pick all the colors as the trees get decorated with twinkling lights.
Joy comes in all different scents as the ovens back those cookies, stove tops fix cranberry relishes, and the turkeys and hams bake in the ovens as meals are prepared.
Joycomes in the sounds of bells and chimes ringing, carols singing, favorite performers add their unique sounds to hymns and holiday songs, and all the laughter watching the traditional holiday movies over and over and over.
Advent reminds us that life with Christ is one filled with hope, peace andjoy. The kiddos shared the story in a new and different way, but the joythat they demonstrated with each “doo doo doo doo doo” of Baby Sharkfame unleashed joy in all those watching and listening to the ancient story once again.
Let the Advent season rebuild all those qualities of your life that get drained down during the calendar year as we face the daily challenges of life.
Let you discoverhopein the story of Jesus Christ.
Let you experience the peaceas you turn over your life to God.
Let you break out with joyas you experience God in your life, especially in these weeks of Advent.
Then be prepared for the last week of Advent to discover the next quality that the season unleashes in your life. God’ gift is opening in your life as we return to the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
As we move through this third week of preparing for Christmas, help us to rediscover the joyof the season in our lives.
As we learn to manage our lives with hopethat you are will never abandon us through all our earthly challenges.
As we turn over our lives to you, the gift of peacesettles in, and we strive to share that gift with others so personal peace can lead to worldly peace.
Be with us as we move closer to Jesus’ birth so that we may join with the shepherds, the wise men, and the host of angels in celebrating a birth that created a world, changed a world, and continues to change the world. –Amen
Common Lectionary readings for Week 3
- Zephaniah 3:14-20
- Isaiah 12:2-6
- Philippians 4:4-7
- Luke 3:7-18