Joy to the World by Cheryl TenWolde

In the Season of Advent, we are invited to look both back in time with the incarnation of Jesus in history, and look forward into the future of his coming in righteousness to judge the earth. We await the celebration of his coming as a baby born in Bethlehem. We ponder his presence coming in the Holy Eucharist, as we pray for every heart to prepare him room. Advent is a penitential season that was first developed to lead into the Baptismal season of Epiphany. It started out being seven weeks long. Some churches are again lengthening the season from four weeks to seven as an antidote to the secular culture we are surrounded with today. They are trying to keep a meaningful Advent Season by beginning preparations right after All Saints’ Day. Advent in our tradition is a quiet period of waiting, hoping, and preparing for the Messiah. Our culture bombards us with very different messages. “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come”, we will sing soon. But even now we know that Emmanuel, the Lord is with us. How does this joy to the world become known? In a turn-about-play, Bishop-Elect DeDe has a question for us, “What brings you joy in living the Gospel? How will you be the Gospel of Christ in action?” We are challenged by the words of St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which

Christ looks with compassion into the world.

Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good.

Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.

As we are filled with blessings, we can bless others. Our three churches are joyful when we fill our Food Pantries, when we serve Community Thanksgiving Meals and monthly Soul Kitchen Meals, when we have Stations of the Cross Devotions, Morning Prayer Services, visitation to shut-ins, Tasting Teas, Joint Services, and Pot Luck Suppers. We are joyful when we give Outreach for heat and other necessities. All these efforts and more are the “wonders of God’s love” as ” he comes to make his blessings flow.” Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

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