Saturday, December 15, 2012

The JOY hope brings...

We're getting ready to celebrate our second Christmas in Ireland.  It hardly seems possible.  We got our tree in the house yesterday.  It smells divine.  We picked it out on a tree farm that's owned by someone Annette made connections with at a Knitting Club she joined in Ashford. It's SO good to make friends.  You might say these connections make us feel more and more at home.

I'm working with Wicklow Rotary on an incredible project.  We're hosting a Tree of Remembrance here in Wicklow.  I got to stand in the cold with another new friend the other day as people came to write names on ribbons to be placed on our community Christmas tree.  They placed the names of Grandmas and Grandpas, but also mom and dads and brothers and sisters.  I watched as a little girl wrote the name of her sister on a ribbon.  Just last week we were in Carrickfergus and attended a service at the Carrick Church of the Nazarene where they lit the tree in remembrance of those who had passed, specifically this past year. 

Christmas is a season of happiness, but I'd imagine that for many this year this happiness may be tempered by the loss they experience.  Tempered by the empty seat around the table on Christmas Day, the person we miss as gifts are unwrapped.  Annette's grandma, a wonderful lady, went to be with Jesus this last week, and she'll be missed(massive understatement).  Most of us are touched by loss at one point or another. 

All this got me thinking about the third Sunday of Advent.  If you're church is traditional at all and you have an advent wreath, you'll notice something about the third candle.  It's a different colour... in most cases pink.  It's the JOY candle.  There is SO much joy surrounding the Christmas story.  To be sure, the birth of a baby brings joy, but the more I've thought about it... I think the reason for the joy in Mary and Joseph or the shepherds and wise men is the HOPE that this baby named Jesus brings... a hope our world desperately needs.

Truth is we can have that same hope, no matter our loss or failure.

I'm a sinner!  I've messed up more times than YOU can imagine.  To be sure I'm an ordained elder, a member of the clergy, but that doesn't mean I'm perfect, it simply means that I take the gift offered to me in Jesus.... and as I do, I discover the HOPE there is for a person like me, a person like you... a hope that brings PEACE, but also JOY.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.


I hope this Christmas... you discover the JOY that HOPE brings.

Merry Christmas!