Joy Unpacked

The 3rd Sunday of Advent has just passed and I am reminded of a conversation I had last year.

I was leading worship and with that responsibility, had the pleasure of sharing in conversation with the children. I love this part of any service and in this particular congregation, I look forward to it. This congregation has more children than adults on most given Sundays defying the trends of rural Atlantic Canada with families remaining for work and then, wonderfully, coming to worship.

I had carefully taken my silver letters J, O,Y that are part of my decor and was preparing to share about Joy, and how I always remember the lesson of my childhood to put Jesus first, others second and myself (Yourself) last. David, my five-year-old friend, and faithful helper of children’s time was primed before worship to hold the letters for me.  He agreed.  Unfortunately, as nature would have it, children’s time and nature’s call occurred at the same time. David went to the washroom and I shared my story. (Which was fun and interactive and everything I hoped it would be, except I missed my helper.)

Worship was over. I placed my notes, my water and JOY back in my bag. I was ready to leave.

“Audrey, where is the JOY?’ David came running to ask.

I opened my bag and showed him the letters sitting carefully in my bag, protected so I could take them home in one piece.

“What? You packed JOY up already?”

I was amused by his chastisement. And his scolding has not left me since.

I packed JOY up already!

Since that day, it seems like the call to joy is everywhere. My colleague often speaks of things ‘sparking joy’, or not, depending on the moment.  Facebook is filled with joy givers and joy takers. Wedding, funerals, marches, protests, school lessons and grocery store advertisements all speak of joy, joy moments, joy makers and joy takers. And the challenge to joy is everywhere, too.  Racism , narcissism, hatred, unrest…there is much that can cause us to lose heart. But my joy comes from what I shared that day with the children. It comes when I put my heart firmly and certainly in the heart of Jesus, when I embrace my  personal assignment to love others and I trust that, in my love and service, I, too, am firmly held and cared for by the One who loves me first .

David was appalled with me for packing up the JOY.

He was right.

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