Near the end of Joanna’s words yesterday she said, “Let joy bubble from your soul and flow out like a fountain to the world around you!”
That phrase really hit me. Joy bubbles – it flows and gurgles like a fountain – joy is not yours alone but it’s shared with those around you.
This realization ask two things of me:
First, what gives me that kind of feeling? So often we put a lot of time and energy into things that only suck every bit of life out of us. Why do we do this? Sometimes it’s unavoidable but often we do it out of some misplaced sense of duty and obligation. Sometimes even from some sub-conscious place of self-abuse. Why do we do these things to ourselves?
God wills joy for us, the advent-ure that we are on and await is meant to be a journey that includes bubbling joy. So what gives you that kind of joy? Where do you find that occurring in your life, and how can you re-arrange some of the furniture of your life to maximize this joy?
The second thing I think of is that our joy isn’t something that is meant to be for us alone. As much as we like to think about what makes us happy – God is in the business of bringing “Joy to the World,” for God “so loves the world that God gave God’s only son.” So even while we ask what brings us joy we are then asked the question: does it also bring joy to others? God’s joy is not something that gives us joy at other’s expense but it bubbles up and flows out. It brings us joy but in the actualizing of that joy it also lifts other’s spirits. When we illuminate our joy we become sources of illumination and joy for others.
Where do you find such joy, and how are you a bubbling up and flowing out joy in the life of the world?
Yesterday we illuminated joy through music and drama – all ages gathered to tell the story of Advent and Christmas. And, because it just happens that way, the light of Advent shone particularly well through the eyes of our children. Children teach us much about joy.
And I’m reminded again of King David bringing the Ark back to Israel after its long time in captivity and exile (I’d love to say more about that because it’s among my favorite stories but alas it’s too off topic today).
Here is the story of the ark’s homecoming with David in 2 Samuel 6:
So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing… David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. 15So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. 16As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart…20David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!”21David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. 22I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.”
I think sometimes we believe worship must be refined and dignified. It should have an element of perfection. So we dress up in good clothes, we sing happy songs, and we wear smiles on our faces regardless of the conditions of our hearts. We script pretty prayers and make sure all is decent and “in order.” We worship in a way that would meet the approval of Michal. And then David – with all his ruddy and youthful exuberance – bursts in leaping and dancing and carrying on like a common drunkard. And we often, like Michal, look on with disdain while we miss that what David is drunk on is the joy of the God’s presence and power and steadfast love. God doesn’t desire orderly worship so much as passionate and authentic expression of our hearts. So we weep when we feel like weeping and sing when we feel like singing, and we stumble, and leap, and dance to the Spirit’s calling.
We make ourselves contemptible to the sensibilities of the dignified while expressing with great honesty our lives before God. Because this is as it should be – we do not live to please the conventions and rules but the one who binds us together in loving community. And who better to teach us that then our children. Who better to teach us to dance to the Spirit’s call then those who have not yet been forced to conform to the social norms but are willing to fling wide the gates of their hearts in joy and sorrow before all.
This advent may our children illuminate joy for us all – for a child shall lead us!