Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Third Sunday of Advent: Something to Be Joyful For

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be
evident to all. The Lord is
near. Do not be anxious
about anything, but in
everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to
God. And the peace of God,
which transcends all
understanding, will guard
your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

The news I hear always seems to be bad …job losses, increasing hunger, more settlements in Palestine, flooding. I could fill this entire page with the weight of sorrows and lists of reasons that do not justify rejoicing.

Many times I turn to a prayer of Julian of Norwich, which in part is “All shall be well and shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” This brings me comfort and becomes an active reminder that I am a servant of Christ.

It is through the sincere acknowledgement of the sorrow and pain I see in our world that I more fully recognize the truly great gifts God gives. The love I have for my neighbors both close and far, the ministry that God has given to do good, do no harm and to deepen our relationship with God, and the awareness of God’s love present and active in our lives…these are reasons to rejoice in the Lord.

In the letter to the Philippians, and in many places in Scripture, we are told to rejoice, but not in just anything, rejoice in the Lord. As we count the days until Christmas some people may feel the pressures of holiday expectations, but at the core of these days is the anticipation of salvation. Like a race car preparing for the start of a race the engine roars as we look for a sign that God is with us always and we are ready to go, to act on God’s call. These are reasons to rejoice in the Lord.

And regardless of the success or failure of our efforts, we can act with the calm and gentleness of the Spirit and rejoice for Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. These are reasons to rejoice in the Lord.

-Rev. Doris E. Warrell, Deacon, Dumbarton United Methodist Church

When I am tired of doing what
God has called me to do,
When my efforts seem in
When I feel I am the only one
I will have a glad heart and
rejoice in the Lord.
For You, oh God,
have called me by name,
given me the gift of thought
and action, and
have blessed me with a
community, the Church, that
is the body of Christ.
Indeed, You are great and
wonderful, and I will rejoice!

For Meditation
How do you cultivate the peace of God so that it “guards your hearts and
your minds in Jesus Christ?” Daily reading of Scripture? Writing a gratitude
journal? Using prayer beads? Fasting? How can this practice be deepened
so that when the sorrows of the world, especially those coming from the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict are felt, you can rejoice through the peace of God?
Does it need to be done more regularly? Is something new or additional needed?

Advent Reflections are reprinted with permission from Churches for Middle East Peace.

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