Embracing joy: an Advent reflection
Dec 20, 2019|Written By: Nathan Walton
I have always been amazed by Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding (John 2). At first glance, Jesus decides to use his miraculous power for something that seems mundane. He doesn’t heal a blind person; he doesn’t repair a broken limb; he doesn’t calm a storm. Instead he enables others to joyfully partake in celebration. He uses his power to bring joy.
In some ways, this can seem like an odd first miracle. Why use miraculous power to give people space to celebrate? Aren’t there more pressing matters at hand? Israel is under the oppression of the Roman Empire and many people are struggling with sickness, disease, and even demon-possession. But perhaps Jesus does this because he knows that bringing joy and bringing healing are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps it’s because lamenting and addressing what is wrong in the world is inseparable from celebrating what is right and good. Perhaps it suggests that we actually need moments of joy in order to sustain us in moments of real hardship.
We embrace joy because God is at work
In our own lives, embracing joy is not a naïve form of escapism, but an intentional way that we resist the lie that God is not at work. The lie that God is not near. The lie that God has not come. At Abundant Life we are reminded of Christ’s coming, each and every time that we see the glimpses of hope and wholeness in our own lives and the lives of our neighbors. We see it in Brianni’s face as she picks out the perfect gift for each of her family members at Christmas Store, and we see it when Paul and Luis finish the long and arduous journey to become first-generation – and STRIVE’s first – college graduates.
In spite of life’s challenges, these moments invite us to celebrate the truth that God is indeed making all things new. As we learn from and walk alongside those in the Prospect neighborhood, thank you for the ways that you support this work. As mentioned in our recent 2019 retrospect, we remain in need of funds towards our end-of-year goal of $75,000 dollars. Please consider giving to support Prospect neighborhood families, as well as praying with us for God’s provision.
Grace and Peace,
Nathan Walton, Ph.D.