Friends, this Christmas season is hard. A year ago my grandfather passed away just after midnight the day after Christmas. A fitting exit for a pastor of 50 years.
This, on the longest night of the year, these losses become stumbling blocks for us mere humans. The skies are gray. The sun barely comes up before it makes its descent back below the horizon. Heaviness keeps our feet firmly on the ground and distracts us from looking upward.
It is dark. But the dark doesn’t have to consume us.
This year. This advent I have chosen to embrace joy. Not only embrace it, but actively look for it every day. No matter what I face. My heart heavy or light. It has gotten me through a lot of dark days.
I choose joy.
Today I saw all my favorite people in the world come together to raise 1 million dollars for a worldwide refugee crisis. In four hours they raised 200,000 through a max of 25 dollar donations per person.
These are people who choose joy in the face of darkness.
But joy doesn’t have to be big to be felt. It can be as simple as spending time in silence. A sip of good coffee before the melee of family togetherness, a deep breath before the onslaught of 2 weeks of Christmas vacation. There is always space for joy. Darkness can’t crowd it out.
This has been a hard year. It’s been a year full of loss. For me. For our community. For our world. No matter what, I believe that restoration and reconciliation are nearby waiting for us to whisper them onstage.
Joy combats the darkness. Joy combats anger. Joy combats hurt. Joy combats everything. When we choose to look for it in the mundane hardness of everyday life our world changes.
Our hearts change.
The earth changes.
Today, on this longest of nights don’t expect more darkness.
Expect the light.