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Advent Devotional Day 17

Isaiah 35: 10
 
I walked backwards through my mind to Babylon in 538 BCE. As I drew near to Babylon, I heard shouting, singing, laughing, and as I arrived, I saw people dancing. What’s going on? The Persian, Cyrus the Great, has freed the Jewish people. The words of the Psalmist express what they must have been feeling:
“You have turned my sadness into dancing;
You have surrounded me with gladness.” (Ps. 30: 11a)
“Weeping may last for the night,
But joy comes with the morning.”  (Ps. 30: 5b)    

Our life’s journey is rugged with many broken pieces and wounds. When my first wife said she didn’t want to be married to me anymore, it sent me into a wilderness. I cried a lot. I struggled. I knew I had to work through my pain, accept my situation and move on. Therapy was a tremendous help.   

Bringing joy to others is the fastest way for us to experience joy. Shifting our perspective from focusing on ourselves to others may be the birth of compassionate concern for others’ well-being. Generosity is often an outgrowth of compassion. Compassion and generosity fill our lives with joy. Advent is a time of longing and waiting as we prepare to receive anew the gift that has already been given, the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ. But the deeper meaning of Advent and Christmas for me is our awakening to our oneness.

I’m outraged at Grinches stealing the joy of Christmas. We have a crisis of heart. Grinches are letting COVID-19 surge out of control. Grinches, filled with anger, wallowing in bigotry are spewing hatred, disrespect, disinformation pitting Americans against Americans. It’s scandalous that Grinches are holding the country hostage playing political games, splintering and fracturing our country, crushing our ability to function. Grinches, lacking compassion, are not concerned for the well-being of those who are about to fall off the financial cliff.  

I want to close on a joyful note. Several years ago, Lil and I stopped in a restaurant in Dillion for lunch. Our server was a tiny, older woman. At the table next to us were people who had been skiing. They were upset and were giving their server, who was our server, a difficult time. She was struggling. When it came time to pay, I gave her a twenty dollar tip. We never expected her reaction. She hugged Lil, hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She was so excited. There was a glow of joy on her face. It was a joy to see her so happy.

This coming year, I want to dance with wildness and let joy and ecstasy fill me to the tips of my fingers and toes.    
Open wide the window of our spirits, O Lord, and fill us with joy. Amen

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    University Park United Methodist Church

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    Denver, CO 80210