Advent: Joying

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Through Advent I will be sharing some thoughts pertaining to how the weekly lectionary scriptures are speaking into our family and the families we gather with every week.

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Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 146, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

“The natural habitat of Advent is a community of hurt. It is the voice of those who know profound grief, who articulate it and do not cover it over. But this community of hurt knows where to speak its grief, toward whom to address its pain….And because the hurt is expressed to the One whose rule is not in doubt, the community of hurt is profoundly a community of hope.”*

As I have been reading through the passages for this third Sunday of Advent, a “prophet” sub-theme stands out. In Isaiah 35 we read beautiful prophetic words describing a joy-filled eschatology. Psalm 146 provides us a life-song of joy in celebration of the prophesied reign of God. James 5 instructs us to have patience in the “not-yet” and points us to the suffering-prophet as a example of how to live in expectant joy. Matthew 11 reminds us of the prophesied signs of the Messiah…the One who brings joy into the suffering of the world. 

Also, in Matthew, is that interesting phrase from Jesus, “blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Jesus, as prophet, understood his radical re-defining of God would create joyful intrigue for some and murder-motivating offense for others. 

It seems prophets and joy fit nicely together in this third week of Advent. And I think “Joying” is a practice of Christian community. Joying is a prophetic practice: the practice of proclaiming and participating in the Kingship of Jesus. Joying proclaims the promise that all things are being renewed…and we can even celebrate that promise amidst the not-yet-renewed. Joying calls us to participate in providing hope and healing of others. Joying creates joy. Joying moves us into proximity with the vulnerable, broken, hurting, hungry, blind…all those who capture God’s preferential attention. Joying is the proclamation and demonstration of a different future, the future fullness of God’s reign. 

So, may we practice joying. May it start in the confession of our own brokenness and may it move us to the proclaimation and participation in the “on earth as it is in heaven.” 

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*Walter Brueggemann, Advent /Christmas Proclamation 3: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year, (Fortress, 1984), pg 9.

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