Somehow this Sunday is already the third Sunday of Advent. I’m really not sure how we got here – meaning, how we are so late in the season. It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating Thanksgiving… and tomorrow the Jolly Old Elf will be sliding down our chimneys (Yikes!).

All joking aside, though, we are definitely in the thick of this beautiful season of comfort and joy. The journey that began with hopeful watching for the Second Coming of Christ and moved through the River Jordan in the arms of John the Baptist looking for the wholeness of God’s peace, now moves us to something far more familiar.

This Sunday’s theme is joy. Specifically, it is the joy of the Child who is coming. The joy of Mary his mother. The joy of the people who have waited so long. The joy that lives even as bare embers in our hearts when all the world descends into shadow.

You see, God’s joy is quite different than happiness. Happiness is fleeting. It depends on so many things can can so easily be smashed, snatched up, or ripped away.

The deep abiding joy God offers is one that rests upon the knowledge of God’s love for us. That we are God’s creatures, made in God’s own image, and loved beyond all measure. And when we finally find that joy, there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can take it away from us, no matter how small it may seem at times from the pummeling life gives it.

That joy bubbles up as laughter and song, stories of promises fulfilled and dreams for a future filled with incredible hope. Especially for those who have been overlooked or broken down or crushed under foot. That joy that we’re talking about, Mary’s joy in her song which is our passage this weekend, can stand strong in the face of anything that comes because we know that God’s love will win in the end. A force stronger than death, passion fierce as the grave, with justice and equity that will finally see the wholeness of life for all God desires.

From the very beginning, Mary knows who she is carrying and what this One will mean for the world: Joy that cannot be taken away.

Blessings, Pastor Janie

Artwork: “Mary’s Song” by the Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman of A Sanctified Art, LLC

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