Sunday, December 16, 2012

3rd Sunday: Joy

A confession, I don't really feel like writing tonight, and I don't think I have much to say.  But I'm feeling an impending guilt from within to keep my word about least through one more week of Advent. So, here goes....

The 3rd Sunday of Advent is Joy.  All of today's Lectionary speaks of joy and praise, including,
      "Rejoice in the Lord always..." Philippians 4:4

Those are tough words, perhaps insulting words, barely 48 hours after the horrific tragedy in Connecticut.  I would never consider saying anything like this to someone who is suffering.  Events like this challenge me to exam my beliefs about almost anything.  On this Gaudete Sunday, it challenges me to exam what I believe joy is....a deep well of mystery that abides deep in my soul and untouched by pain, tragedy or suffering.  I've spent much time over the last year thinking about this very thing: joy.  "How do I experience joy in my life?" "Can joy truly exist in the midst of pain?"  I say that joy is different from happiness; that happiness is an emotion that is fleeting depending on how my life is going.  Perhaps an easy thing to say as a simple statement.  I want to believe that God=Joy.  I want to believe that there is always joy regardless.  The mass murder of kindergarteners challenges me to ask myself again, "What do I believe about God? What do I know that I know?" 

 The fine young man in the picture is my son, TJ.  He graduated from Texas Southern University yesterday.  TJ has been in my life for the last 12 years.  I've celebrated many wonderful memories with him, but all pale in comparison to the pride I felt yesterday watching him accept his college diploma.  I have feelings overwhelming pride and indescribable joy.  And today, this pride and joy is seeking to coexist among hardship and uncertainty.

I know that I know: God is real and God is Love.  Despite whatever pain or tragedy, this is an absolute for me.  It may be the only absolute truth for me.  It is to this God I pray,

   "May the truth of Your love make a difference in our lives.  May joy rise mysteriously, like the Phoenix, from the ashes of our broken dreams, tears and sadness. Until then, let us feel that You as close to us as our own breath."

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