Joy come in a mixed bag this season. There is joy all round–worship on line with music, Word and scenes of the life of the community; decorations, a few, going up in new locations around the house; candles promising that the Light has come and is coming! But behind the Advent wreath in our worship space is some clutter, some chaos and disruption. And in our circle this season someone is leaving this life, someone is grieving mightily, and many all over the world are in despair for countless causes and reasons. How do I hold on to the Joy, while so much is so wrong?
For many reasons I have been dogging that questions in these months of upside-downness, confinement, and as our pastor preached, no script. In my pursuit, I have found that that there is a consensus on two things: first, that Joy is a gift of the Spirit: The fruit of the Spirit is…Joy! When I sing “Joy to the World” these days, I am acknowledging that the Holy One comes to us in Grace, in a Person with a promise of Presence, Hope and Love, discernible and accessible by me, and all the people of this world. In addition, however, there is a shared sense by wise ones though time, from Fra Gionvanni, to Lady Julian of Norwich, to Dorothy Day, to Maya Angelou, that Joy is something I need to choose and practice. Henri Nouwen says, Joy does not simply happen to us. We must choose joy, and keep choosing it every day.
So today this third week of Advent, I will practice choosing joy: as I rise, as I eat breakfast, as I convene a Zoom gathering, as I wrap presents for folk, as I bake coffee bread, as I listen for the phone or e-mail, in order to see how God is present in my world and the world around me and where the joy of the world is showing up this season. I am exercising the spiritual muscle that Nehemiah speaks abut when her tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything, says Lady Julian. May it be so for me today!