Advent Joy - Reflections 12-13-17

 For Sunday December 17, 2017

 3rd Sunday of  Advent

 Luke 1:46-55

 We are in the midst of the season of Advent in the church. Advent encompasses the four Sundays before Christmas Day. In Advent, a candle is lit each Sunday. On this third Sunday we will light the first candle of hope, the second candle of love, and a third candle of Joy.

December is a time when both the external and internal are screaming at you saying BE JOYFUL! Everything is flashing and loud.  Have a holly jolly Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Internal impatience rises at emotional roadblocks.  I should be grateful to spend time with that jerk of an uncle. Making all these fruitcakes should be a joyful experience. Why do I miss my mother so much?

Even in my most devout gratitude for the incredible grace shown by God in the birth of Jesus, I cannot reach total joy. Sometimes I feel like the guy described by Yeats who “had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy”. 

That makes me chuckle, but, wiser people than I actually kind of agree with that concept. In short, Joy is complicated. 

Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment… In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations... Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness… And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness . . . every bit of life is touched by a bit of death                                                        – Henri Nouwen

Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed                                                                            - Kahlil Gibran

is found in the moment
when the tables turn
and the veil of denial is lifted
displaying vulnerability and fear,
colliding with hope and promise,
mingling together.                                          - Katherine Hawker

What a great image: vulnerability and fear colliding with hope and promise. Love it!

Our text from Luke is an account of Mary’s response to the angel who has told her that she is expecting the Savior of the world without the benefit of being married. Pregnancy was always risky; not being married was even more so. Mary really had every right to be angry or fearful; she was terribly vulnerable. But the angel’s words brought hope and promise. Do not be afraid. God has honored you. Your son will rescue all people. That collision was the moment when the tables turned. Mary’s mighty words praised God, and rejoiced that God was going to move powerfully on behalf of those who were powerless through her son. What joy!

Mary answered I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.  - R. Tagore

What brings you joy?

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245