Looking for Joy in all the Wrong Places

A woman and her young daughter went out Christmas shopping.  The mall was, as you might expect, packed.  They skipped lunch because the mother wanted to stay on schedule, but as the day wore on, she became more irritable.  Her feet hurt and patience wore thin.  When they left the last store, the woman turned to her daughter, exasperated, and said, “Did you see the look that salesman gave me?” The little girl replied, “Mommy, he didn’t give it you; you had it when you went in there.

Sometimes when we get to this time of year, we need to sing “Joy to the World” just to remind ourselves that Christmas is about joy, joy, joy.  On this Third Sunday of Advent, the monks, who took the season of Advent way more piously than we, needed the reminder.  Maybe we do too?  So they signaled the season was half-gone and Christmas was coming by instituting Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin meaning “rejoice.”  They were commanded in the midst of their spiritual preparation to include rejoicing.

We get irritable from our shopping and parties; the monks got that way from fasting and repenting.  Advent is a purple season on the liturgical calendar.  That means like Lent before Easter, we’re supposed to fast before we feast; we’re supposed to pray before we play; we’re supposed to purge before we splurge.  We don’t, but we’re supposed to.  Some of the dissipation and fatigue we feel can be traced to this.  It can get pretty gloomy in those wintry stone-cold monasteries ofEurope, so they adapted Advent on the third week to let a little joy in.  That’s why the candle this week is rose-colored—not pink, mind you, for breast cancer awareness—rose, as in the Rose of Sharon, a crocus blossom in the desert, which surprises us in the midst of all that is bare and barren.

C. S. Lewis entitled the autobiography of his early years Surprised by Joy—a line borrowed from a Wordsworth poem.  Joy in life is always a bit of a surprise.  For all his intellectual gifts, the thing that most characterized his writings about the Christian faith was the underlying presence of joy.  Lewis asked, “Why, in the face of all that is declining in the world and decaying in nature and dying in ourselves, is there any joy and not only despair?”  Joy is one of the great gifts of God.  It’s one of the gifts we celebrate in the story of Christmas, when God is joined to us in Jesus Christ.

Where are you finding joy during this season?

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Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Very nice! and lovely candles you have there. god’s blessing


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