There was lots of joy to go around on Sunday!
Joy in the beautiful music (thank you to James and our talented and burgeoning choir!), joy in giving to Communities@Work, joy in prayer (I loved the quote from Rebecca’s Baptist women friends!), joy in flower arranging (and stewarding and teaching our children and youth – don’t forget to be in touch, joy seekers! 😊) and even joy in simply entering the church building!
Another impetus for joy this week (and throughout Advent) have been the amazing reflections written by people in our church. I have appreciated these so much and I know that they have sparked many responses and conversations – enabling some of you to make even more Baptist friends!
This Sunday our final advent theme is love, and then we will gather in Telopea Park at 7pm for more joyful singing! Then again, 11pm on Christmas Eve, at Wesley Uniting Church, and again at 9am, at Canberra Baptist Church, on Christmas morning.
The third Sunday of Advent is also referred to as Gaudate Sunday in many churches, the Latin word for ‘rejoice’, as many services began with these words from Philippians 4:4-6 (the most joyful of biblical books as Rebecca reminded us!): “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
It is so reassuring that this joy is not just for those who are happy, for those for whom everything is going well, but this joy is also for those who have concerns and worries (i.e. all of us!), and we are given three directives.
Firstly, we are to live as gentle people – gentle with each other, gentle with ourselves, gentle on our earth.
Secondly, we are to trust that God is near. At the Call to Prayer for the Taskforce and Association last Tuesday night (the next of these is Tuesday 8th February – if you can put that date in your 2022 diary) a person in my Zoom group spoke of how dark and uncertain the future now seems – not just in terms of the challenges facing the Association, but our world as a whole – and he said, “All we can do is hold Jesus’ hand in the darkness.” That phrase has stayed with me, filling me with confidence and joy, because although the darkness might be all around, it reminds me that Jesus is very close. “Rejoice. The Lord is near.”
Thirdly, we are to keep letting our requests be known to God. We are to keep praying. By ourselves. With others (discovering the joy of prayer groups!) For others. And when we gather together.
I’ve shared this poem (below) before – but it definitely fits here – so please enjoy this poem about joy!
Joy, gentleness and Jesus be with you!
Because Christmas is almost here
Because dancing fits so well with music
Because inside baby clothes are miracles.
Because some people love you
Because of chocolate
Because pain does not last forever
Because Santa Claus is coming.
Because of laughter
Because there really are angels
Because your fingers fit your hands
Because forgiveness is yours for the asking
Because of children
Because of parents.
Because the blind see.
And the lame walk.
Because lepers are clean
And the deaf hear.
Because the dead will live again
And there is good news for the poor.
Because of Christmas
Because of Jesus
Brad Reynolds, S.J.