An Advent Reflection
The theme of the third week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of Joy” from this morning’s readings. Today’s verse is from the reading from Isaiah 35. The picture, used on today’s worship bulletin, reflects also an earlier portion of the passage where the prophet declares: “waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”
“The ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. — Isaiah 35:10
While the children presented the Christmas story this morning in worship I wasn’t thinking about this election cycle or the troubles in the Middle East or the medical problems of family or the family problems of friends. There were just children in the spotlight dressed in sweetness and a deeply familiar story of Mary and Joseph, a journey to Bethlehem, and the heavens radiant with the song of angels.
And though, as we went on to say the prayers and share the peace, I was mindful of the struggles and sorrows of these people I have come to love, yet our cares and intercessions were still clothed in joy.
As we sang the ancient song of the gathering of all people into one body, like the gathering of wheat into the one loaf that becomes Christ for us, the shadows of the world were far away. Here, in this moment, at this table, earth and heaven were at peace. Here was a foretaste of an imperishable joy.
And so the prayer of the day – and of this third week in Advent:
who called forth the first morning of the world
and brings all things to their final end when all night is vanquished,
make us ever mindful of our journey homeward
and grant us eyes to see your life giving work,
that your joy may break forth upon us;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen