Tag Archives: joy

Advent 2: Joy in the midst of Uncertainty

The dawned filled with sunshine. My week has been filled with wonderful activities at the church, with some deep and meaningful family time and our house filled with laugher and love. Yesterday, December 8, we gathered to celebrate my mother-in-laws unique and unrepeatable life and spirit. She had died in early November, but this weekend allowed more of her grandchildren to make the trek to Wichita for her memorial service.

Traditionally the candle of joy is the third week of Advent. This week, at least personally, it seemed very appropriate. Joy can come sneaking around the corner or burst out in the most amazing times and events. My husband’s family here, created a joy filled space and time as memory board were made and stories shared and laughter and more laughter ringing through the rooms.

In the sermon Calm and Bright, from Marcia McFee’s Worship Design Studio, the 200th anniversary of the debut of Silent Night, Holy Night is celebrated. Verse two of that well known carol goes like this:

Silent Night, Holy Night,  Shepherds quake, at the sight                                                              Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing “Alleluia”                                                 Christ, the Savior is born, Christ, the Savior is born.

When fear moves to awe and wonder, joy becomes part of the experience of the glories streaming and the alleluias being sung. In today’s service we focused on Elizabeth and Mary’s joy at being part of God’s grace being made real in their lives and through their participation in God’s work in the world. You can find today’s worship service in it’s entirety here.   

I am praying for new spaces and places to experience joy in this Advent Season.

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Third Week of Advent–Joy

The third candle that is lit during the season of Advent is always pink. The other candles are either purple or blue, but the third candle is pink. The third Sunday is also often Mary’s Sunday or the Sunday we focus on Mary’s great song of praise “The Magnificat” from the first chapter of Luke.

The candle is not pink because Mary is a girl or as we might think because the focus is love. The candle is pink for joy. In the old days, Advent was like lent and a time of penitence and reflection and fasting. The third Sunday was a break from all the somberness of the season was named “Gaudete” Sunday (which is latin for Rejoice)

Joy is a funny thing. Joy is not happiness and yet one can be happy and filled with joy. Joy is something deeper. Happiness can fleeting, here for a moment and just as quickly gone. One can have have and still grieve, or be sad, or uncertain or even have a bit of fear.

I believe Joy is having faith that God is with us no matter what. There are many things in the world that can cause uncertainty, sadness and even fear. Joy is the response of faith, that we are not alone and that no matter what God will be with us. I believe that is why Mary could proclaim “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for God has done marvelous things!”

In worship Sunday, we celebrate this kind of joy.  The third Sunday of Advent at First United Methodist church was all about joy! May this week you find the joy of this holy season.

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A new year

I am not much into New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps because I am not very good at keeping them. Perhaps because my time to make “resolutions” tend to be in the fall when the days grow shorter and the night longer. In the middle of the deep darkness others call winter, it is harder for me to think about, let alone set resolutions. I am sort of “bear-like” what I really want is to just hibernate.

Having said that, I do think about some things I would like to do in 2015. These tasks are not much different than what I had hoped to get done in 2014. Most are a continuation of what I am already doing, I just want more of it. Someone had posted in a blog that they like to list “goals” for the new year. Somehow that makes more sense to me. Ali Ebright in her blog Gimme Some Oven has a word that she uses to be a goal for her new year. I like that as well.

After the year I have had, my goals or resolutions or whatever name you want to call them are pretty simple. I want to quit looking over shoulder because while I know there are always people who are cynical or pessimistic or looking to see other fall, I do not want to give in to that kind of negativity. I want to be more intentional about disengaging from work in order to enjoy family and friends. I want to continue to be healthy through exercise, getting enough sleep and eating right. I want to cook more. I know that sounds silly, but some weeks I do not get to cook at all, and I find myself spiritually centered and more joy filled when I cook. Along with cooking, I plan to continue to garden, so that part of what is served comes from my hands. In other words, I am looking for more peace, more joy and more love to share and to experience.

In other words, I want this:

When I type “more” I don’t mean more stuff, but more intentionality about life, love, joy, peace and faith. In the best of the Christian tradition, I believe that is what Jesus was all about. The Beatitude, his parables, his time at table teaching, eating and challenging was focused on helping people know that they had everything they needed to live well and in community. I hope to pay better attention to Jesus’ words in 2015.

In my own Christian denomination there is long tradition of saying the Covenant Prayer on New Year’s Day and often on the first Sunday in January. It is attributed to John Wesley by United Methodists, its origins are subject to some discussion. Regardless, the prayer itself is powerful A musical version is in the newest hymnal supplement Worship and Song. I love it and while this video isn’t great, it gives a taste of this powerful prayer put to music.

On this day, I say this prayer

with hope that I may continue to be graced to serve

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Reflections on 2014

It has been a year. That sentence in its simplicity speaks volumes for my life and the life of many I know. It hints at grief, uncertainty, joys and surprises. My brother blogged about his life in review at The Kansas Expatriate Like him, I really enjoy the “year in review” from newspapers, magazines, new commentaries and even those “facebook” movies. Every event in a year in “review” hits people differently. However most people, I would guess, view the year from a very personal set of lens.

Certainly my year has been filled with ups and downs. Several of my posts have focused on a year of grief after the death of my mother. Some showed frustration with my broken foot and how that affected my mobility and ability to do what I wanted and loved to do. Others spoke of the gift of pastoring when grief was thick and deep as so many of my congregation died this year and some of those deaths tragic which reminded me of my own grief.

My year has also been filled with joys. I walked a 5K on Thanksgiving day, something I could not have done earlier with my broken foot. I spent wonderful days with family and friends and found ways to focus on the good in spite of what could have been an invitation to spiral into despair. I also took the challenge to blog daily during November and while I didn’t make it every day, I did most days and that felt great.

In many ways it has been a difficult year, but it has also been a very good year. I love the Kingston Trios “It was a Very Good year.” It is a melancholy song relating life to wine and that each year is a very good year. In truth, even in wine, some years are better than others. The weather, the sun versus the rain, the timing of the harvest affects the grapes and how they produce the final product. I have decided that while life is often like wine, I have the choice of how the weather, the circumstances and the events of the world and my little place in it affect how I choose to live in response. I choose faith. I choose love. I choose joy.

So as I review 2014, it has been a year. A year of sorrow, a year of joy and a year of deepening faith that grace abounds and God loves me, God loves us all more than I can possibly imagine. So on the eve of 2015, I ran across this photo from Codeblack faith on facebook

May it be a prayer that ends this year and gives comfort and strength for the year ahead. In the midst of it all, I truly am graced to serve.


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