Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of Advent themes. Last week’s theme of JOY seemed almost eclipsed by the chaos of life…but then, just like our God always does, it showed up in a big unmissable way.
There is a good sized community of homeless people near where we are currently staying. My friend reached out to a local library to inquire about how we might be helpful. They shared that they allow them to use their facilities, but that local folks simply leave things on the benches for them. Following a farmers market each Saturday, vendors leave left over baked goods, fruits and such. We decided to follow that example. My friend provided toiletries to be left in the library restrooms, and we packaged clean socks and undergarments to be left on nearby benches. This has proven to be an efficient delivery system. Later, when my friend and I were discussing, okay okay…it was more like I was complaining about, a situation in my life, she said, “Well, at least we are not getting our clean underwear from a park bench.” Going forward, anytime either of us begin to give too much attention to negative things we can simply say, “BENCH”, and our perspectives will be jerked into alignment. Please don’t judge me too harshly. It is not like I was saying “Let them eat cake!…But Life can be a struggle for anyone. Sometimes it is the enormity of worldly events/attitudes that weigh on our hearts. At times, the circumstances closer to home threaten to overwhelm us. For many, the struggle is either physical or emotional. For all of us, whether mild or mighty, the struggle is real. We all have a sort of “bench” in our lives. It is easy to let circumstances rob us of our joy, even during the holiday season. I was reminded of how easy it is to hold fast to joy at a concert the other day.
We, along with some friends, were attending a benefit concert at a local fairground. We sat in plastic folding chairs waiting for the first of several acts to begin. A local DJ was playing random sets of music. Wedding line dance tunes, “oldie but goodies” and an assortment of island jams filled the time. Then IT happened. I cannot even recall the name of the song, but only a few notes into it, one of the ladies in our group jumped to her feet, literally shook with JOY and began to enthusiastically dance. I was transfixed. She was obviously instantly transported to another time in her life…hips swaying, arms swirling, and body bopping and dancing “as if no one was watching”. Something in that song connected with her and she could not seem to help but dance. By far, it was my favorite thing about the night. I LOVED seeing so much radiant joy. And that is it…God’s unmissable message. To know His JOY, to radiate His JOY, we must be connected to Him. Knowing Him, knowing His love, forgiveness and grace, seeing His handiwork all around us, can literally jolt us to unstoppable joy. With the understanding of Who He is and Whose we are we too will not be able but to dance with JOY.
His joy is beyond circumstance….His Joy is beyond the bench.
“And the angel said to them, do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great JOY which shall be for ALL people.” Luke 2:10