Living in Advent – Part 3, Waiting for Joy

adventThis season of the Church’s liturgical year is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The word “advent” is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, “coming.”  We are waiting for                                                          what is coming!

Was there a moment known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancients harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?” (Madeleine L’Engle in Bright Evening Star).


What separates Christians from others as they celebrate Christmas? I think it must be joy. Of course, others are happy and delighted during the Christmas season. Lights and carols and giving and sharing are not the domain of  Christians only.

But from the time Jesus “went with all his love into the womb of a young girl” until the day of his birth and into eternity, Christians will identify  with angels clapping their hands for joy. The recipe for that joy is one part awe, one part surprise, one part hope, one part gladness, one part contentment and one part gratitude.

It is the kind of joy that is not snuffed out by problems or suffering. James, “a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ,” understood this kind of joy thoroughly. He was able to say “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  And Paul echoes this thought in Romans 5: 2: “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings.”joy-is-the-presence-of-God

I wonder if the angels clapped through their tears as Jesus suffered and gave up his life on the cross?  I suspect that they did. I know it is possible to speak of joy as tears of grief and loss are running unbidden down our face. I think that the ability to choose joy  no matter what life gives is one of God’s greatest gifts.

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