For Sunday December 14th, 2008
" Be joyful always, pray continually; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Some days, when challenges mount up, it is hard to be joyful. I would love to be able to say that despite all the things that challenge me, I am always joyful. I try, and often I can find something to be joyful about even in the most challenging and hurtful of circumstances. I am not always joyful but I am consistently and constantly human. And things do break my heart and take away my joy from time to time. We are all human and life can sideswipe us all. We might even get angry with God in these times, pondering out loud and in prayer about our circumstances.
I used to think that this passage was directive and impossible. At least for me. How can I be joyful and pray continually? I am too human and too easily frustrated. It took me years, but I finally realized that I had to read the whole passage, and had to hang on to the final verse. "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (verse 24)Finally, I realized that I can't be joyful and continuously in prayer. Or at least not alone. It is Christ Jesus who calls me, and it is he who supplies the capacity when mine is spent. When I rely on myself much of what needs to be done is impossible. When I think that I am alone in the work, then it all seems more than I can bear. But the good news for me this day, is that Jesus is faithful, active and restoring, joyful and thankful, even when I fail. And when I fail, I can rely on him, lean in, setting free God's activity in my own life. O how I long to be perfect (or at least better) at so many things. How often does it happen that God uses my humanity for the greater good? I don't know, but I hope that through me at least, joy break through in some small measure into the world.
So this third Sunday in Advent, I want to offer God my humanity. No longer to take it away, but rather, to allow God's grace to shine through my need and my brokenness. I pray that we can all offer who we are to God, completely and fully, this day. May we be the instruments on which the joy and thankfulness of Christ plays out loud across our fragile world.