Walk in Joy
Jane M. Gardner, presiding evangelist
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing…. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. And 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 35:1-2, 5-6, 10
What gives God joy? I suspect that there could be lengthy discussions around this question. From my human vantage point, I’m pretty sure items on any list I develop will come off sounding self-centered and self-serving. Is it joy I feel when I receive a promotion? Or buy a new car? Or get voted “most likely to succeed”? Or get that much hoped-for Christmas gift?
My suspicion is that God’s joy has more to do with justice, righteousness, and wholeness for creation. The exiled children of Israel long to return home and the prophet Isaiah provides words of promise. In Isaiah’s forecasted time of healing and wholeness, a clear and inviting road points the way back home for all the exiles. Those who walk the Holy Way will sing with joy and will forget all sorrow. They will rejoice to think they soon will be released from captivity to begin the journey home.
Despite conquest, oppression, injustice, sickness, and death, the people of Israel live with the knowledge that God cares for them. God will come to be present with them-Emmanuel, God-with-us.
The joyous expectation of the coming Messiah shines through the weeks of Advent. There is a clear and inviting Way coming for all those who are lost or exiled, including us. Along with ancient Israel, we look toward the celebration of the birth of a Messiah. We prepare the wilderness around and within us to receive Him. We sing with joy this message of coming transformation and restoration: “Joy to the World…let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature SING!” (Isaac Watts, CCS 408).
“Trust what is being born” (Stephen M. Veazey, Words of Counsel, 2019).
Deepen your breathing as you enter a few moments of silent presence to God. Pay attention first to your own life as you gently ask and notice, “What is most alive in me right now? What is being born in me?” After a few moments of silent listening, ask these questions of your community, the church, and the world. Notice how the Spirit is revealing new life and possibility as you prayerfully ask these questions over time.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.