Many of the Advent readings point to tales of angels appearing to ordinary people.
Proclamations from John the Baptist about the coming Messiah while he baptized and ate locusts. Angels proclaiming the good news to Mary and Elizabeth and in a dream to Joseph. Isaiah and other prophets foretold the good news about the anticipation of Emmanuel – God with us – coming.
It all seems so out there, like one of those dooms day preachers, standing on soap boxes and yelling, “The End is near!” The Bible points to outrageous stories of proclamations.
The Bible verses we read during Advent also provide a sense of comfort full of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Sunday in church we lit the Joy candle.
This is the joy that’s full of hope and peace and, though the Advent candle isn’t there yet, love.
It’s the kind of joy Mary sang about when she proclaimed her happiness at carrying God’s son, about becoming a mother. It’s the kind of joy that is in our hearts and takes up space in our living rooms. It’s the sort of joy that came to Joseph when the angels came to him and told him to not leave Mary. It’s the joy the shepherds and magi witnessed when they followed the star.
Joy is a wonderful thing. It’s outrageous and off-putting. It’s fun and comforting. It’s completely out there, at least in terms of our Advent stories.
It’s sad to think that our world is lacking in joy. Fighting, violence, road rage, fear, check-out lane rage. Joy seems to be missed.
I’m trying hard to find the joy amidst the anniversary of Sandy Hook and the tragic events occurring in Aleppo. And yet…joy is there. It might not out in the open but perhaps when a child, full of ash and soot looks up and realizes he/she is alive, maybe that’s the joy. I don’t know…God doesn’t create hurt and violence. God weeps with us. God wants there to be joy. Sigh…
Back to Joy…
Justin Timberlake’s song, Can’t Stop the Feeling, has been all over the radio, even on satellite. The lyrics remind me of joy, with words such as: “I got this feeling inside my bones, It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on”
Shouldn’t joy be electric?
And later the verses:
“I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh
I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock the way we rock it, so don’t stop…
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance”
Granted, it’s a pop song. It’s a song that reminds us to take the positive and “just dance, dance, dance.” Enjoy life, enjoy the good.
For me, that’s joy. Because…
Shouldn’t joy be sunshine and ‘good soul in our feet’ and a feeling that completely shakes us and makes us want to ‘dance, dance, dance’?
Joy should be earth shattering, just as Mary and Joseph experienced. Joy should make us dance. Joy should make us want to get up every morning and praise God. Joy should make us want to spread that feeling to others and dance like Fred Astaire on some side alley in the city.
Even when we’re in pain and hurting, joy is there. Hidden and locked up, but surrounding us all, particularly this time of year. It may be difficult to find and grasp but joy is there. You can’t tell me that Mary didn’t think, “What am I going to do? I can’t have a baby! Think of the scandal!” And Joseph almost left her! Scandal!
Ok, that’s nothing compared to the pain many of us feel. However, on the flip side both parents-to-be experienced Joy. Because that’s God’s promise to us. And isn’t that something to dance to?
May God’s joy surround you all, even through the lowest of lows and highest of highs and wherever you may be in life.