Joy

Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say…

You are faithful, God you are faithful.

I told a dear one this morning that as I light the joy candle this year,

I feel like I am on the “other side” of joy.

The side where I can pump my victory fist to this song.

My life isn’t perfect.

In fact, as I write this, I am weathering a bedtime meltdown—

How’s that for multi-tasking?

But it’s a meltdown that I’d never trade for the silence of three years ago.

That was the year that I lit the joy candle choking on my own breath,

Cursing the silence and the system and my own heart for loving too hard, for holding too closely.

That was the year that I lit the joy candle in defiance.

In response to a gift promised but not yet given.

Not the promise that Little One would be mine.

That’s not the foster parent’s promise.

But the promise of good news.  The promise of redemption.  The promise of God wrapped in flesh and then a Comforter, a Counselor, and Advocate.

Do not be afraid

The angels said

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. (Luke 2:10)

Not just the ones who have seen the gift, the promise, delivered.

Not just the ones who can pump their victory fist.

But for the ones working their program and beating addiction day after hard-fought day.

For the ones still choking on their own breath, facing Christmas with giant, gaping soul-wounds.

For the ones lighting the joy candle in defiance.

This good news is for you too.

This great joy is for you too.

This is the promise.

And he is faithful.

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Hope

My childhood church was not much for liturgy.

Even writing that makes me chuckle a little, actually,

Recalling the folding chairs and clanging tambourines and fire and brimstone.

Not much for liturgy, but big on Jesus.

Is it a cliché that as an adult, I find the rhythms of advent life-giving?

Perhaps.

Alone in the relative quiet of my own home tonight, I light the hope candle.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19)

A verse that’s never far from my heart.

One that I’ve written about before.

Here in the anticipation

We have this hope

Ancient prophesies, angelic proclamations.

Light in the darkness.

Here in the manger

We have this hope

God wrapped in flesh.

The promised one crashing into the mess that was a stable.

The mess that is our world.

Here in the Eucharist

We have this hope

Remembering with thanks.

Joining hearts and sharing the table.

Not just with the ones who look like us.

Here at the cross

We have this hope

Death defeated.  Brokenness turned beautiful.

All made new.

Here in this moment

We have this hope

Living hard in the direction of grace

Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses

In between the now and the not yet.

Hope is here.