Monday, December 17, 2012

Climbing Seven Spots on the Carol Charts is...

So, its no secret that I love Christmas carols. O Come Let Us Adore Him is one of my all time faves. I remember being very young and by some gift of faith and imagination, realizing how awesome it would be to have actually bowed before the Christ child.

Mary, Did You Know is one of my least faves. The church in which I grew up had this tradition of singing this song. A lot. And then some more. There's nothing wrong with the song itself, but it's like paprika. Too much and you ruin it.

I won't go into Christmas Shoes...other than to say it's a blatant ploy to grab all your heartstrings at once and then wrench them from your body.  I resent that kind of emotional violence.

One carol that has always been somewhere north of the middle and south of, "Oh, yes! I love this one!' is Joy to the World.

It has always seemed a good sentiment. A wish for joy unto the world, or even permission for joy to come down on those who would have it, since Christ, the hope of all humanity had at last made his entrance.

Yesterday that changed.  Hearts at church were raw from the grief and devastation of last Friday. For some of us it is just appalling to see such unfettered evil.  For others who have lost children or loved ones or who have experienced intense violence, it resonated those chords of pain again.

And yet, we worshiped. Oh, did we worship.  And the tears didn't sop, but faces lifted, and the Holy Spirit poured in and through and around all the hurting hearts, infusing strength, a solidness, and hope, a brightness. What is that?  What draws us up even in the hurt?


I remember a period of six months where I would have left my circumstances in an instant if I could. I was categorically not happy. But...for the first time, in that vacuum of earthly comfort, familiarity, fun or fulfillment, I was not hollow. I was not hopeless. I Persistent, unquenchable joy. It was the stirring that kept hope aflame. For the first time I recognized that that's what joy does.

Yesterday, while we prayed and praised, I realized that Joy To The World is a declarative. Maybe even an imperative.  There is no wishing for joy because it is already, stubbornly sitting amongst us and will not be moved. It is as true and as solid as the earth itself.  In my head, it became JOY! to the World.

What a lovely, marvelous state, this joy, that relies not on any circumstance of earth, but is integrated into our beings.

Thank you, most holy Lord, for joy. For Jesus. For the way you came and for how intentionally you promised this gift in human form to all people: wealthy and brilliant Eastern scholars, poor and scruffy shepherds...all of us.  All my love. All my heart. Filled with joy.

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