writer David Gaddy
This week, I get the opportunity to blog about Joy. However, I do not know if I can. I do not know if I want to. Thank God Storied Church came into my life and I have been doing the social media for this Advent season. Otherwise, I would have ignored it.
You see, I lost my dad in May. I was okay for a little bit after his death. It had been coming for a while (15 years to be exact) so I was prepared for the moment.
What I was not prepared for was the after. Months after, I am not okay. I miss him. In many ways he was my moral compass. He was one of my best friends. So, this year I am not very holly jolly and cozy toasty.
If you are with me in those feelings, then hear me when I type this next line:
it is okay NOT to have all the Christmasy feels!!!
However, I would challenge you not to stay stuck. For a long time, I reminded students of this fact:
Happiness is temporary feeling, joy is an eternal gift.
I can be happy over pizza, blue box mac-n-cheese, and Krispy Kreme. However, those feelings run out. However, joy is something you can keep in your mind and think about all the time. My wife and kids make me joyful. My career makes me joyful. My memories of my dad make me joyful.
I suppose I should throw some Jesus on this. We often think of Jesus as Divine and forget the Humanity. Advent also can remind us of not only our humanity but that of Jesus too. We see that Jesus FELT that deep sadness of losing a friend and John 11:35 says Jesus wept. Even though he brought his friend back to life, I am willing to bet that those feelings were imprinted on his heart and came back when he crossed others amid their pain. However, we read that Jesus found his joy in the conversations with others and serving them. His haters even saw his overabundance of joy and called him drunk (Luke 7:34).
This season, may you realize that happiness and even sadness are temporary. If you are a Jesus follower, be reminded that it is okay to feel. But take a note from Jesus and find the things that bring you joy. Real, long lasting, joy. If you are skeptical, may you know that our community embraces that and celebrates that. I challenge you to find joyous things too!!
There is a celebration called Blue Christmas that I helped lead in my days of ministry. It is for those of us who have lost a loved one, a job, a marriage, or some other loss, either recently or long ago. It is a service to acknowledge the pain and emptiness, but to also do that with a community of people. One prayer that you can find to use concludes the service:
Advent prayer for Joy
Another day will come, O God. I do not know what it may bring, but make me ready, God, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, help me do it joyfully. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Your Peace. Amen.