Sunday, December 20, 2009
Advent Reading - Joy & Grief
One of my pastors, David Gentiles, passed away tragically and unexpectedly this week. Even though this Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday when we light the candle of Joy, it was also a time of mourning for our faith community. I was honored that they asked Julie and I to do the Advent candle reading. We were given a beautiful reading written by another member of our community, Renee French. What she expressed, together with the context of mourning and remembering David, gave new meaning for me to the Christmas story of God taking on human flesh and dwelling among us in the midst of all our grief and suffering.

Here is what we read :

Today, maybe ironically or perhaps appropriately, we light the candle of Joy.

When we deal with loss, and when we find trouble, we can feel very empty and alone. We can feel scared. It's a world with loss, and betrayal, and pressures, and worries. It's a world in which it's easy to forget the message that Joy is real.

But Joy is real. We gather to remember that. We stand together as followers of Jesus. The story that God came into this world, in the midst of poverty and darkness and fear, and Joy shone like light and beauty and strength and courage and power.

The early Christian teacher Paul told the Jesus people in Philippi,

"Find your joy in God, always. Let me say this again: find your joy. Be gentle with every single person. Do not worry about any single thing. Instead, in every moment, give thanks to God and ask for what you need. And God's peace - the peace that God gives, that cannot be understood - will guard the gates to your hearts and minds."

Joy is at the heart of the journey through Advent to Christmas: Joy in the knowledge of what God has done through the eges, joy in the realization that God is able and that God does change things for the better, joy in the assurance that God can enter into our lives no matter what our situation may be. The Apostle Paul calls us to a life of rejoicing:
. . to live a life full of rejoicing and gentleness
. . . to put aside worry in the confidence that the Lord is near
. . . . to lift our requests in prayer, with thanksgiving
. . . . . to trust that the Peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

Please pray with us:

In a world of busyness and worry, of grief and fear, we come to you God, and ask for help. We hear the message that the Christ-child is coming into the world where we are. That the Word becomes flesh and blood and moves into our neighborhood. That You, God, are with us, intimately intertwined in our every moment. But it is hard to believe. So help us see that Your Joy, God, is real, and that we can experience it, and live it, and share it. Amen.

This reading was followed by this video by Jonny Baker, set to Sufijan Stevens' version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which was simply beautiful:

unwrap our darkness from jonny baker on Vimeo.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 9:54 PM | Permalink |


At 12/20/2009 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Laurel

Thanks for posting this Mike :-).


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