08 Dec Grateful for Joy to the World!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Boy, am I grateful for this truth this year! I mean, we say it—and sing it—every Advent, but in this most crazy of years, 2020 has led me to a deeper understanding and appreciation of just how very much it matters that Jesus is Lord and that he has come to us. The novel coronavirus is not lord. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats are lord. Wall Street is not lord. And, contrary to what my ego wants me to believe, I am not lord, either. Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, is Lord, and he has come embodying God’s love—and he invites us to share the love we have received from him with others.
It is this last part that trips me up so often. Jesus didn’t say we are to love those who “deserve” it, or who agree with us, or who are similar to us, or who act responsibly, or who share our values. We are to love as he loves us—and Jesus loves us freely, extravagantly, mercifully, patiently, unconditionally. He loves us when we are obedient and when we’re willful; when we are gracious and when we’re rude; when we’re generous and when we are selfish; when we are sensitive and when we’re obtuse. I am the blessed recipient of an overflowing well of divine love. Why is it, then, that I struggle so much to love others?
That is why Advent worship is such an important spiritual practice. I need a regular reminder of the miracle of Christmas—that God’s Son left the incomprehensible glories of God’s presence to clothe himself in human flesh and move in next door to us, all because of love. No wonder we sing, “joy to the world!”
Our Advent has been different this year, without a doubt. But I have also discovered in it a sacredness and beauty that has surprised me. This past weekend we pre-recorded the Christmas Eve Lessons & Carols service. It will be available online at around 5:30 p.m. on December 24th. Jenny will provide the link via the e-letter as usual, or you will be able to access it through the church’s website (check the “sermons” tab). To be honest, I was dreading this whole pre-recording enterprise, expecting to feel a little Grinchy without a congregation filling the sanctuary to share this special service together. But to my amazement, it actually felt like Christmas Eve. Despite our pandemic-altered circumstances, God was very much still present, still faithful, still Lord come to bring joy to the world.
And here’s another thought: what if, in this completely unexpected way, people who are not able to worship in person on Christmas Eve in a normal year might actually be blessed by this service, experiencing a God-moment or finding a few minutes of peace and joy? Truly, Jesus is Lord! How might you experience the lordship of Jesus today, as you move deeper into the Advent season?