I am grateful for Joy.
It arrives unexpectedly in the loveliest of moments casting light into the dark shadows. In this season of darkness we look for joy, we look for light. Christmas can bring that gift with feelings of goodwill abounding, and even the news we watch has more good news than usual, brightening our lives.
Christmas at the hospital where I work is filled with good cheer. There are decorations everywhere. The staff go all out to bring colour and laughter and brightness to what is often a difficult place for many. On the ICU desk the words PEACE are set out in tinsel, a reminder that even in the hardest of times, peace is a gift.
Christmas of course can also be the hardest time of year. For those who grieve, for those who are very sick, for those who are experiencing tragedy. I cannot write a post on joy without acknowledging the deep sadness many feel.
And yet, in the midst of difficulty, I’ve seen much joy this week.
I saw it in the volunteers who were all decked out in their Christmas best, carolling through the halls. I heard it from another volunteer who thanked me profusely for providing blankets for children in the ER (this was a recent gift from someone in the community). And she told me the story of a family who needed warmth and a blanket for a baby, and there it was . . . provision at the very right time.
I saw joy in the face of another staff member who had a Christmas tree to share – and did I know of someone who needed one? And yes, I did, and the joy I experienced of connecting these two and knowing a single mom and her kids would have a beautiful Christmas tree was beautiful.
One of the joys of Christmas is carolling. We enjoyed the children’s pageant at our church last week and have been treated to some wonderful music. This weekend we will listen to the Bells! And how I am looking forward to the Messiah being performed in our community.
My favourite carol is O Holy Night. But I love the lyrics many do not sing, and they go like this:
He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!
It’s all there! God knows our need. He knows our weakness. And we behold this beautiful gift of Jesus, the King who came to redeem us, whose law is love… don’t you love that? His gospel is Peace! And we sing sweet hymns of joy, overflowing with gratitude! Let ALL within us praise His Holy Name! I get teary just writing about it.
It was an Old Testament writer that said these powerful words: “The JOY of the LORD is your Strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Yes, it is JOY that comes from deep within, from the one who came to be with us, to dwell among us, to live in our hearts. This joy is our strength.
So we celebrate – with songs of JOY. Blessed third week of Advent!