A reading from the Letter Of Saint Paul to the Philippians 4:4-7
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The joy and the peace of God is experiential. It is not theoretical nor conceptual.
This week, I found it whilst singing carols on the streets with our homeless brethren. We meet with them every weekend and offer conversations and a simple cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. It is a simple ministry that has been running for ten years by the grace of God. And so it is tradition to sing Christmas Carols together every Advent to prepare for Christmas.
However, this year was like no other. A storm was forecast for the weekend. On the way to get there, I had to drive past fallen trees and debris, broken power lines and traffic lights that had blacked out. And then the weather cleared whilst we were setting up our portable awning. Within minutes of starting the carols, the clouds rolled over again and torrential rain hit the pavement. The winds came and the awning started to shake, water seeped through the cracks and I could feel the pelting of the rain on my back as we sang “O Holy Night”. All this over a dramatic backdrop of lightning (surprisingly, there was no thunder). Some of the young men had one hand on the frame of the awning to keep it together, and the other on the lyric sheets as we continued like this for the next hour. Our poor fiddler tried his best to keep the water out of his violin. Girls with open shoes found their feet wet from the puddles that had formed on the ground. It was the most hilarious and difficult scene in which I have ever sung Christmas Carols. And yet, the joy that came to us was unmistakable. It was also fortunate in that those in need were given some shelter from the wind and rain temporarily for those few hours. We were able to share with them the joy of the Incarnation because Jesus Christ came to be among us that night. His promise to be with us when two or three are gathered is always true! We finished the night with much joy in our hearts, dancing as we packed up. I had so much joy, yet I could not explain it and so I shared this with a friend on the drive home. Her simple response came, “God is here!”
Indeed, the joy of Christmas is just this. God is here. God is with us. His Presence is the definition of fullness of joy in our being. May we be attentive to His coming to meet us in a real way this Christmas and in every day of our lives.
Rejoice in the Lord always!