The word joy doesn’t seem to be used much except around Christmas and in church. Joy was once a common girl’s name. Maybe you know someone named Joy. In the stories leading up to the birth of Jesus in the gospel of Luke we hear of joy. Mary has been told that she is going to have a child. This child is going to be special. He will do great things for his people. That’s a big responsibility for Mary. She must know that it will complicate her life. And she is probably poor and struggling as it is. Yet she and her cousin, Elizabeth, are portrayed as being filled with joy.
Can you think of a time, recently, that you were filled with joy? When your heart was joyful? When you wanted to sing for joy? When you were overcome with joy? Maybe even shedding tears of joy?
Take some time to think this over and reflect on one or more recent experiences of joy. Is it hard to come up with a recent occurrence of joy in your life? That’s something to be aware of. Do memories of joyful moments come easily to mind? That is also something to ponder. Was joy once a common occurrence? Has that changed? Are you feeling more joy? Take some quiet moments to reflect on joy in your life.
If you can think of a recent experience of joy, try to remember what was happening. What were the circumstances? Were others involved? What was going on? This may give some illumination about finding more joy in your life in the days and weeks to come.
While many Christmas ads promise joy, shopping and presents may not be where we actually find joy. Joy may not be in a box under the Christmas tree or in a stocking hung by the chimney with care.
Being part of the life of God, following Jesus, cultivating the image of God within, seeing the sacred in others, these things are associated with a wellspring of joy in the Christian tradition. Or at least they point in the direction of joy. In the gospels Jesus is remembered for coming to bring joy. If we would like to feel more joy in our life, maybe our spiritual life needs more attention. Maybe it’s time to be more regular about church, prayer, and service.
This Christmas may we ready ourselves for JOY to “Be Born in Us Today.”
The fullest expression of our deepest humanity is a life of much joy. In these busy, hectic days of holiday preparation may we find our way to making room for more joy in our lives. Amen.
Remember the LUCC Christmas offering for Gulfcoast Legal Services. Your gifts may help bring joy to others!