Joy: An Announcement

JOY.  Advent 3.  When we hear the announcement:  the tumor is gone, a beloved is coming to visit, there will be a stimulus check, or simply “you passed,” our hearts respond with joy.  That which we thought might never happen or which we thought was a long way into the future suddenly becomes a closer reality and we rejoice.  The gospel of Mark does not start with the Bethlehem story but with adult John the Baptist, a weird looking prophet announcing that the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah was come in him.  Prepare, the Messiah is coming!  Perhaps it is hard for us to imagine the impact of those words as we do not live under foreign domination, nor do we have a long-standing prophecy of a future leader that will lead us out of our turmoils.  We hope for a vaccine.  We hope for a cure for cancer.  But still, when an announcement comes of an immanent solution to our struggle, we rejoice.

         I note that the people did not really understand what Messiah would mean.  They were thinking of the resolution of their earthly struggles, liberation.  I note they probably expected a confrontation where “the good guy” wins.  I note their role was to “prepare” their hearts through a baptism of forgiveness.  But I also note that masses of people flocked to hear this message and responded with actions.  I suspect they responded with the emotion joy and anticipation.

         Advent is a time when we too hear the cry to prepare.  We do not know exactly what the solution will look like or mean or if it will be in our life time.  I suspect we expect “good” to defeat “evil.”  And we read that we too must prepare our hearts as God will not come and force us to comply to his plan.  My friend said, “Joy is a choice.”  James says, “consider” it joy.  Joy is a mind set that focuses on the positives in the midst of that which tries to hold us down.

         So how are we focusing this Advent season?  I turn on the news and feel overwhelmed by the problems facing our world.  I turn on a cheezy Christmas movie and realize those romantic solutions of love look different in old age with failing bodies and families spread around.  I ponder what announcement would bring joy to my heart this Advent?  What about today will help me focus on God-solutions that are eternal?  May I encourage you to just rest and enjoy music or take a moment to appreciate nature.  Perhaps joy will come from a phone call to a beloved friend.  Joy comes as we realize the announcement of the solution to our problems is close even if we do not understand.  God is speaking hope and peace into our lives, preparing the way for the Messiah, and so we can be joyful.  Blessings.

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