We are coming to the end of Advent. Christmas is hours away and I am preparing for our two Christmas Eve services at the church. I don’t know if it’s been the Advent preparations, or the journey of life that have taken my focus in many directions; but the phrase “pure joy” keeps popping into my view and bringing me back to what matters most.
Maybe it started back in November when I read the post Thanksgiving blog of my friend and colleague, Jim Somerville. He reminded his readers of the places where you can find God. Jim said, “God is good wherever you are, and wherever you are God is good.” Since then, I keep hearing those words, “pure joy”. I finally came to the conclusion that it was God telling me to remember the pure joy that I have felt throughout this year.
Well, “pure joy” comes from finding God in the midst of life…and that is good. I’ve had a busy couple of months. As I reflect on my Advent experience, prepare for Christmas Eve and pack for my Christmas trip to Richmond, I decided to take a small break and reflect on the pure joy that surrounded me this year.
Where did I find “pure joy” this year?
- Taking part in two wonderful baby dedications
- Celebrating my 40th birthday with a dear friend who came to visit and hearing twice from another friend who never remembers my birthday 🙂
- Leading the Easter Sunrise Service and the Christmas Eve Family Service
- Cheering on Duke as they won their 4th National Championship, and rubbing it in….in a pastoral way of course
- Watching the Youth lead the entire congregation in worship…in their own way
- Two little boys coming to my office on Tuesdays and Thursdays to give me a hug
- Sweet angels running up to me every Sunday calling out “Pastor Linda”
- Spending days and hours behind my camera searching for God with the help of my lens
- Sharing the results of my photo exhibition with others
- Conversations over coffee, tea, or a little Sam Adams
- Resting for several days in a hidden jewel off the coast of Maine
- Kayaking and lobster rolls for the very first time
- Joy in a different way, being God’s presence with those who grieve – being able to walk with a family as they anticipate the death of their matriarch and celebrate with them as she ran into God’s loving arms
- Cheering on the youth at their games, concerts, and plays; seeing the passion and joy on their faces and in their hearts
- Watching my cat waiting for me to move over so she can sleep beside me on the couch
- Hearing Susan Sparks preach after a spirit-filled conversation and reading her book, “Laugh Your Way to Grace”
- Worshiping on Wednesdays with Jim and First Baptist, Richmond
- Watching the youth grow before my eyes and further into my heart
- Celebrating the power of education with those who hunger for transformation
- Watching the toddlers squeal when I peek into their room
- Calling my mentor whenever I need a little guidance
- Remembering the gifts that God gave me and asking that I use them to bring the Kingdom of Heaven down here to earth
- Finding a friend who understands, in a green witch named Elphaba
- Watching the children and youth play together and laughing until I pee in my pants
- Sitting in the comfort of Nature’s arms as the sun sets on the water and the only sound I hear are the squirrels playing in the autumn leaves
- Standing with a new mother as she finds out her precious boy gets to stay
- Being sick before Thanksgiving and filled with kindness from those who came to care for me
- Then being able to spend Thanksgiving Day with a fun-filled family
- Text messages with teens
- Skype conversations with sweet souls
- Escaping into Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker
- A writing class that pulled words out of me that I didn’t know were there
- Baby Jesus’, Walking Stars, and Devilish Angels
- Let’s not forget a few more lighthouse visits and walks on the beach
- And watching myself grow with every step I take and each mistake I make
I can go on, because I know the joy is not done. There is more to come and I have no idea what that will be. The only thing I know is that God is in the midst and with that, pure joy is never far away.