Joy! Then Re-joice!

Joy! Then Re-joice!

I am writing this on November 22, just six weeks after I started serving Spanish Springs. I feel like I have been here longer—in a good way! I have met a lot of people and gotten a good sense of the health of the congregation. I feel more connected that I would expect after such a short time. Kudos to the Session and Deacons for giving thoughtful attention to bringing me on board.

November 27 was the first day of the new Church Year, the first Day of Advent. The third Sunday in Advent, this year, December 11, is traditionally Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for joy. It’s the Sunday we light the pink candle in the Advent wreath. Purple is a somber col- or, the color of mourning; pink means joy! “Joy” is not a verb in English, but “rejoice” is. In the Bible sometimes people are described as rejoicing, or even commanded to rejoice, but never to “joice.” When we feel and express joy, we rejoice. Maybe in the Season of Advent, a season of hopeful, expectant waiting, it would be good to think about the first time you remember feeling joy. Where were you? Who was with you? How old were you? Try to connect with that moment.

This month I am feeling joy as I remember a dear friend named Joyce. Joyce was the greeter at a church I used to attend. Joyce has a way of looking you in the eye that you just knew she was glad to see you. When Joyce gives you a hug, she keeps one arm around the back of your waist. She’s surprisingly strong, and she needs to make sure that you know you’re welcome. I don’t know Joyce’s last name. I have never seen her any place other than church. Just remembering Joyce makes me smile. Just remembering Joyce makes me rejoice.

Advent ends with the stunning miracle that God became a human being, and started out as all human beings start, as a baby. The theological word for this is incarnation. As we use the Season of Advent to make room in our hearts to welcome the Christ child, look around and notice the people in your life who embody the grace we know in Christ. I hope you have a Joyce, and I hope thinking of her in this season leads you to rejoice.

See you in church,

Pastor Tom

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