Advent: It’s hard to outweigh fear with joy

This article first appeared in the Dec. 15th, 2020, edition of the Marathon Mercury.

During the third week of Advent, we are called to reflect on the theme of “joy”. It is much easier to make this a conversation about ourselves. Where are you finding joy during the pandemic? How are you nurturing joy and gratitude in your life? But, these questions can be burdens to us, instead of illuminating. There is so much emotional management that comes with an emergency, and as the situation in Marathon becomes more serious, it’s hard to outweigh fear with joy.

This December, I want to invite you to reflect on a radical idea. Namely, that God delights in her children. It’s repeated throughout scripture, but surprisingly difficult for us to remember!  In the morning, when you look at yourself in the mirror as you brush your teeth, I wonder if you take the time to remind yourself that you are someone in whom God delights? That, you are someone worthy and on the receiving end of God’s steadfast love?

At a time when the burden to be OK is high, it is liberating to know that in our imperfection we are seen, known and loved. Now, you might have a voice in your head amending that statement, saying “Well, yes but not you! Because we both know you’re [insert self-criticism here]!” Trust me when I tell you I am all too familiar with that voice. But, he/she/they are dead wrong. Your Creator brought you into this world, flaws and all, already delighting in you. Her joy, this Advent, is in the anticipation of revealing herself more fully to you, whether it is through Jesus’ life, the scriptures, music, or the outdoors. As Creator, God’s greatest longing is to be in relationship with her creation, which includes you!

Advent and Christmas are not just about us needing to muster some joyfulness because God is good. God knows us all too well. She knows our struggles and fears. Like a mother who sees her child growing frustrated by a skill they haven’t quite mastered, God delights in us as we grow and reckon with the world she crafted. She honours our whole range of emotions and feels no need to rush us along from sorrow to joy. This Christmas, if you’re not quite finding the good cheer you’d like, breathe deeply in the knowledge that God has enough to go around, and that you—yes you!—are a source of her joy.

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