“Come together, one and all
In the giving spirit
Gifts abound here great and small
Joyously we feel it”
This piece of music ends the movie A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey, when Ebeneezer Scrooge – completely turned around by his encounters of the three Christmas ghosts – joins his own family in joyful celebration. After Scrooge’s ignorance for his employees and their salaries, his ignorance for the struggles of his society, and his heartless disregard for his own family who invited him over for Christmas, three ghosts show him the meaning of Christmas.
After his encounters, Scrooge’s heart turned, he became compassionate and joined his family for Christmas, and the movie ends with this joyful song, titled “God Bless Us Everyone” by Andrea Bocelli. The song connects so well the two services from last week and this week. Last week, we encountered the meaning of the sacred in all of us, and how each and everyone of us has something sacred about ourselves, inside us. And today is the third Sunday of Advent, also called “joy.” Bocelli’s song really captures both of these moments, it celebrates this sacredness through being together. And it takes on the spirit of Christmas, embodying Love, peace, and joy.
Some of us, however, there are plenty of reasons NOT to be joyful. Besides our heightened sense of stress during this season to prepare for Christmas, some of us may find this season – like any large holiday season, emotionally difficult. Some of us may have health issues that they are battling with. Others may have family issues and disputes that make it difficult to celebrate. And the season carries memory of loved one’s we may have lost. And then we may think about those who are homeless and freezing outside in the cold, those in Ukraine or in regions in Palestine with no electricity. I am thinking about the women who were executed for not wearing a hijab in Iran. I don’t find joy in that, or the railroad workers who receive one paid sick day per year. These voices that no one hears, and no one finds justice for them. How can I create this sacred space of just joy where those are heard?
“To the voices no one hears
We have come to find you
With your laughter and your tears
Goodness, hope, and virtue
Father, Mother, Daughter, Son
Each a treasure be
One candle’s light dispels the night
Now our eyes can see
Burning brighter than the sun
God bless us everyone”
In advent, we often think of Mary as the pregnant woman who joyfully praises God for her blessing of pregnancy. Mary’s praise to God confirms God’s commitment and blessing to the those in the world that are not blessed by our culture and society. Mary, who was not blessed by her religious culture because of her low standing, because of her pregnant status while unmarried, is filled with joy by God’s blessing, God’s presence with her – around her, and inside her. At the same time, this image of Mary’s joy about God’s blessing on her is an image of the female body making space for joy and justice is an empowerment to the vulnerable, dissociated from the society. At the same time, it is an empowerment of vulnerability and emotionality, in this case the joy of justice. Creating space for a more just world carries a sense of joy.
What spaces do we inhabit at home, work, and community, that are feeding, nurturing, and reflecting the freedom and joy that is so desperately needed? I invite you to take a look: what gives just joy around you? How is your work making this space of just joy? How is your home give room for the miraculous truth that God is with us and around us?