Some Glad Morning

Each week of the Advent season a different aspect of our anticipation of the coming Lord is emphasized. This week’s focus is upon Joy.

While many of us would be quick to list joy as a major Christian attribute, less of us understand it or even worse have ever truly experienced it. For some of us, we even wonder if there is anything to be joyous about at all. So what is this whole joy thing about anyway?

When I think of how joy and waiting mingle, especially during this season, I think of Christmas Eve when I was a little kid. I could NEVER go to sleep. As hard as I tried, sleep seemed to always allude me those nights, but it really didn’t matter; I was just so anxious about what the dawn (and Santa) would bring.

While presents were high on my list, the whole experience excited me. The glow of the tree in the low light of early morning, everyone in their underwear and jammies with hair all a mess, a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy made by my favorite chef (mom!), the huge pile of waste accumulated by the end of the unwrapping session, rummaging through what seemed like a bottomless stocking, seeing the rest of my family open the gifts I had picked out, and the afternoon trip to Grandma’s for even more fun.

It was the highlight of my year and sleep simply could not compare. I knew that just around the corner was a day unlike any other, a day of peace, excitement, and joy.

Yet, I grew up.

I have lost much of that sense of wonder from my youth. I now know better about jolly old Saint Nick and mom is a thousand miles away. I will probably sleep quite soundly on December 24th. Often my only real hope for the holiday season is that I might actually enjoy it.

Is this what we call maturity? Dear Lord, I hope not.

I believe we could all learn quite a bit from our younger selves. They would tell us to play some more, to imagine, and to laugh. They would tell us to let go of our pride and shame and run into our daddy’s arms when things hurt. Oh to have the faith of a child, Lord have mercy on me.

We need these lessons from of former selves because our present selves have incurred the burden of what we call “the real world.” There are bills to pay, things to clean, papers to be written, calls to make, and we alone are responsible. We have awoken to the reality that life is hard. And in this midst of what used to a joyous season, we’ve heaped more burdens upon our shoulders: debt, stress, plans, worries, and strife.

We fill the mall parking lots hoping to fill our hearts, only to find we’ve been lied to. We strive and strive looking for “something,” waiting for “someday” that will set us free, that will awaken that sleepless child from Christmas eve. Yet the more stuff we amass and the more things we do, we still can not find it.

A wise man once said “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

Where are the glad tidings of joy? What will set us free from this life of decay? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I, like my younger self am often in sleepless state but for altogether different reasons. I find rest hard to come by in a world like the one I know. So I wait. Not idly, but actively. I hope, not fleetingly but confidently. Just as Jesus came the first time at just the right time, He shall come again.

Lord knows that there is a day, right around the corner, that will change everything, a day of peace, a day of excitement, a day of Joy indeed! The following Scripture from Romans 8 fully embodies this Advent idea of joy in waiting

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him.

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.” (Romans 8:15-21 MSG)

That author knew what was right around the corner and he knew that in the waiting was joy. That deep down inside each of us (and even all of creation) there is an intense longing for “someday.” In Christ, we can know that that “someday” is coming, that He is coming. And we can join all creation in singing the joyous victory song, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last!”

Michael is a student at Denver Seminary and wants nerdy things like books on theology for Christmas. He is planting a church in North Little Rock, AR; you can find out more about it here: www.churchargenta.org. He also has a blog, A Sprig of Hope, found here.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Some Glad Morning

  1. Georgie-ann

    How many late nights I spent staying up wrapping on Christmas Eve,…all the last minute details,…it’s now or never,…if it doesn’t get done, it won’t get done,…”Oh, how I wish there really was a Santa Clause!” I would cry and moan and laugh at myself all at once,…exhausted, I had to keep on keepin’ on,…this mission had to be accomplished!,…no putting off until tomorrow,…why?,…because of the “Christmas magic!” It couldn’t happen without us as its willing accomplices. “Oh, I get it! Now I’ve joined the ranks of Santa’s elves!,…so maybe I deserve a couple of those special cookies, while I work on into the night!”

    So year after year, we DO become its willing accomplices,…Christmas enablers,…this IS the world’s biggest party, after all!,…the “joy” must go on!,…the delights of giving and receiving, for the simple loving pleasures thereof,…a huge freewill display of “grace and unmerited favor” overflowing to all participants,…

    & Oh, how we need those children — their hearts and eyes, and pure and innocent anticipation!,…not a doubt in their souls that this super extra-ordinary delight hasn’t been truly ordained from some “special on high place, somewhere,” and is specifically designed to tweak all their “inner delight” buttons,…and “just because” — (who needs a reason?),…

    …gettin’ the “love” revvin’ and flowin’ among family members,…the secret desires of our secret hearts — to touch one another, to be more real and exposed for just a few moments, to love and be loved, to bask in the glow of a familial “love fest” — come a little closer to the surface, become a little more accessible,…we “tap into” some of that “overflowing fountain” energy — (who needs an excuse?),…

    …and the shared “traditional” aspects of it do serve to create a bond of commonness and oneness within the society too,…

    Well,…we might not “need” a reason, or excuse, to jump into the almost irresistible flow of Christmas splendor shared, but underlying it all — the lights, the tinsel, the drama, the efforts, the music, the gifting — is the greatest reason of all, God’s Love for us, one and all. No one loves us like the Father, but we can still try!

    I’ve always loved an early Bible study “explanation” of Santa Clause that one of my co-studiers shared with us long ago — (besides his being a real church Saint, Saint Nicholas) — as being “the Spirit of Christmas.” It has helped me many times to find the strength to finish my late night “preparations.”

    Love, pleasure in sharing, freewill giving and receiving, might not “need” a reason — (after all, a child can do it!) — but we have the Greatest reason of all,…God’s love for us acting through us,…now THAT is a cause for Real JOY!!!

    1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

    Merry Christmas & God Bless You!

  2. In the words of the chipmunks, “Hurry Christmas, hurry fast, please Christmas don’t be late.”

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