Advent 2016: Joy

Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146: 5-10; Luke 1:46b-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

“Pick a word for 2017,” my friend Nicole said.

“A word that means something to you for next year,” she said.

“An intention.”

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:10)

I drew a total and complete blank. Nothing. No word.

In 2016, I had focused on the word “Peace” and had an almost unending supply of a complete lack of peace. It was a peace shitshow for most of the year. Needless to say, I was empty of words that could be an intention that I could set for next year.

I tried all the usual words I love out…faith, grace, mercy, joy, love, peace, trust, hope, intention, surrender.


And then I read one of my all time favorite songs in the bible…

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

Mary was about to have a very rough year. She would be judged. Outcast. Treated with disrespect. And all the while she would know that she had made the right choice…had done the right thing.

I’m no Mary.

I’m not an innocent maiden. I wouldn’t even make the short list of women God might choose to carry his son, if say he were trying that route again. And I’m much harder to convince to do anything. I would ask far far more questions and I would try to find another solution.

But as I lay on my yoga mat today after sweat inducing sun salutations, I thought of Mary. I thought of her willingness coupled with joy.

My spirit rejoices in God.

Then the tiny voice said “What you want is to be happy again. You want to feel good. You want to be deeply pleased with life. You want to laugh when others laugh. You want to remember what it feels like to enjoy life…day to day living of this life. What do you call this thing that you want Sweetheart?” (She’s kinda nice sometimes.)

My only response…Joy

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them.
He keeps every promise forever.
He gives justice to the oppressed
and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.
The Lord loves the godly.
The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows,
but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. (Psalm 146: 5-9)

d0a97e07040e2a0f599c4e32a8a599ccThis third Sunday of Advent…

This week as we face our challenges…

In 2017 as we start with a fresh (and much needed) new year…

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