Lord, Lift Me to Joy
By Carol Norris Vincent of Independence, MO, USA
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth —Isaiah 11:1–4a NRSV
It was the second Sunday of Advent and the theme was “Prepare the Way.” The guest evangelist asked us what happens to us when we prepare to receive the greatest gift God has given us—Jesus Christ. He challenged us by saying when we are prepared, our hearts will change. This is not just a one-time change, but rather a moment-by-moment change that occurs within us as we are transformed on our life’s journey.
His sermon reminded me of one of those changes in my life, on a day that did not start out well. I set aside parts of three days a week to visit the elderly, sick, and dying in the facility where I live. These visits have been such a blessing to me. These people strengthen and nourish me through their fortitude and love.
On this particular morning I had awakened tired from a restless night’s sleep and, frankly, in a grumpy mood. My first thought was that I would not go visiting, but then I realized that some of my new-found friends were depending on me to share my day with them. So I grudgingly started my rounds. After the first visit, I was feeling better. I was in a lighter mood and went willingly to the next room.
Then I became aware that it was not I who was taking friendship and caring to others. They revived me with their love. As I felt a smile grow on my face, I’m sure I must have said aloud, “Oh, Lord, you lift me to joy!” That day turned out to be a joyful day for me. My heart was prepared to receive God’s gift.
Advent Prayer Phrase
Anticipation deepens within.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?