Kia ora tatou,
The third Sunday in Advent is upon us. This Sunday during our service of readings and carols we will be lighting the third Advent candle – the candle of joy.
I started writing this last weekend when joy seemed to be a great message. I am expecting joy and delight as we listen to the St Andrews singers this weekend. Joy on Christmas Day when Tony and I, like many of you, are fortunate enough to get time with family/whanau and re-create our sense of wonder and joy.
And yet the news is bleak. Where will the joy be for Samoan communities grappling with the loss of babies? Where will the joy be for the families of people who were injured or died following the eruption at Whakaari/White Island on Monday? Where is the message of joy and hope for the people of Manus Island? For these families that joy might yet creep back into their lives must seem incomprehensible. There is a German proverb that says: “Joy and sorrow are next door neighbours”.
And then I thought about the Christmas story. That lovely phrase about the angels bringing tidings of great joy. Even if we take only the grains of the story – these messages were given to farm workers who went to visit a carpenter and his family staying in a barn. I can’t for a moment imagine that any of these players – the shepherds working through the night; a very tired Mary just given birth in less than ideal conditions and her anxious partner living in a military state under hostile conditions were brimming with elation. Their lives were not easy ones – but messages of hope and joy could be heard. Mary didn’t necessarily leap for joy, but stored these messages. My hope is we all have enough stored joy to last through the dark periods.
Our last carol on Sunday is Bill Wallace’s Christmas in the Summer. The last verse possibly sums up my reflection on the tension between looking forward with joy and recognising the pain.
Raise the Christ child’s praises
Lift both joy and pain
Touch the realms of oneness
Live the birth again.
My thanks to all who are contributing to the service this Sunday. May you and your family/whanau find moments of joy over the days and weeks ahead.
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