A Change of Clothing

I’m taking a class on discernment this fall as part of a graduate certificate program in spiritual direction. Up until now I had always considered discernment as the process of making big life decisions and was startled to discover that discernment is best when it is an intentional part of daily life. I say “intentional” … Read More

In Search of God’s Good Pleasure

Anger. Outrage. Despair. These feelings coursed through my body, and linger even now. At first I heard that none of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s murder were indicted. Then I saw that one officer was charged with “wanton endangerment.” Not because Breonna Taylor died. Rather, because the other bullets endangered Breonna’s white neighbors. It … Read More

Seemingly Impossible Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. Always and everywhere. Was Paul kidding? The world is too challenging a place to be full of joy always, isn’t it? I mean look at what is happening around the world – war, hunger, sickness, climate change – and in this country – murder, incarceration, tear gas, hatred, fear – … Read More

Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Sing

Some of this blog might sound trite or naive,  but it’s neither. This week’s reflection is composed with the lectionary in mind, and following a rather dramatically hostile day at the hospital. Yet I choose joy, because I really believe we are beloved of God. Only in this relationship can we experience true joy, ever.

I think joy is misunderstood. I don’t think it is happiness magnified so much as it is life embraced. It isn’t a fleeting feeling of ecstasy or amusement, either. Joy takes root deep inside a person’s soul and blossoms into strength and wisdom that keeps one grounded when tragedy and chaos strike. Joy is part gift and part hard work.

It is easier to focus on the horrors. Another shooting rampage (this one in Oregon). Syria firing missiles at rebels. North Korea testing missiles. An Egyptian blogger jailed for blasphemy. A human mind tortured by mental illness. Looking for joy is challenging.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I believe these words from Philippians are at the core of the Advent message. We are preparing for Christ to come anew. We are anticipating Christ’s return. But Christ is already here. So rejoice! Breathe. Be gentle with everyone including yourself. And stop worrying. It’s a choice to celebrate Christ’s presence even when things are painful and messy.

I have often begun worship with an invitation to worshippers to share things for which they are grateful. There is never silence. If people in a psychiatric facility can find joy then there’s hope for the rest of us. The good news of Advent is that we are already Beloved. Christ has claimed us.

We worship and participate in the seasons of the church to remind ourselves of the ancient story and our place in it. In this season let us remember all that Christ has done for us and choose to rejoice.

Surely God is my salvation;544839_10151221234859375_1385174662_n
I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength
and my might;
he has become my salvation

RCL – Year C – Third Sunday of Advent – December 16, 2012

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18