Apologies to anyone who was looking out for a post in what is becoming a bit of a regular Sunday slot. All I can say is that perhaps it is better late than never…but it’s also an indication that life has got away from me a bit over the last couple of weeks.
It’s always a bit frantic at this time of year. I have to admit, I am exhausted and also not very well. But life is full of good things…just a little over stuffed at times!
It’s been and gone, but the third Sunday in Advent continues to light our way towards Christmas: Hope and Peace are followed by Joy.
If we think of joy as an emotion, I don’t think it is one I experience very often. But then, it’s not normal to feel happy and excited all the time. To be honest, I think I probably think of joy as quite childlike. Not that that’s a bad thing! After all, Jesus did suggest we need to become like little children – and it would be quite nice to just embrace all the good things in life without worrying about what comes next and seeing all the negatives too.
At the moment, there seems very little to be joyful about. Seeing the news from Aleppo this week makes me want to cry in despair. The news at home is full of strikes, cutbacks – and everybody getting stressed about how much they still have to do before Christmas. In the face of all that, it would seem a little ridiculous to be joyful. And yet…
I enjoyed what Sarah Bessey had to say about Christian joy in her advent blog:
Joy is born, not from pretending everything is fine, but from holding both hope and truth together. The Christian can stand in that liminal space, the place of grief, even there with joy. Why? Because joy is the affirmation of the thing that is truer than any trouble, any affliction: the affirmation that Love wins. Jesus is as good as we hope, it’s all worth it, and all will be redeemed.
And I have to say that Joy to the World is one of my favourite Christmas carols. There’s something about it that just makes me want to celebrate – maybe it’s because it doesn’t just look forward to Christmas, but to the time when Jesus will come as king. Maybe it’s also because it is so much fun to sing! (In my opinion, it’s not quite as much fun to listen, but if you want to…just click on the link below. Enjoy!)
The third Sunday in Advent is also linked with John the Baptist – the one whose destiny was to ‘prepare the way’ for Jesus. Three candles lit on the advent wreath: the prophets, Mary, John the Baptist – all lighting the way towards the Light of the World.
I have to say that reflecting on these traditions in so much more detail than I normally would has been so supportive to me. Despite being unwell, tired, overly busy and occasionally a little overwhelmed by all that is going on in the wider world, I’m finding so much to be thankful for and to enjoy:
- Maintaining one of my Christmas traditions by visiting Castle Howard to see the ‘house dressed for Christmas’
- Dressing my own house for Christmas!
- Writing cards and thinking about each recipient and what they mean to me
- Wrapping presents – and hoping the unwrapping is a pleasant surprise!
- Spending social time with colleagues – and eating far too much!
- Making sure that the money raised by Coffee and Cakes by Candlelight gets to where it can do some good
- Singing carols with old friends
…and I could go on. No wonder there has been so little time to blog!
A long time ago, I remember reading that the secret to joy was simple:
Jesus first, Yourself last and Others in between.
That’s easier to say and remember than to live in practice, but I do think there is a lot of truth in it. As I continue my journey through Simplify 7, I suppose you could say I’m continuing to work it out.