A Prayer of Joy: December 12

Third Sunday in Advent: A Reflection on Joy

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

-Philippians 4:4 (NRSV)

I was born and traditioned in a Black Baptist Church. I should note that the church of my youth was more a hybrid of Baptist and Pentecostal, colloquially called “Bapticostal.”

In the worshiping environment, created by the praise, worship, preaching, and jubilation of the people gathered in that space, there was joy.

In the space, with those people, and the manifestation of that Ghost called holy, our joy felt like sheer ecstasy. In that space, I learned lyric and melody which provided an education to the source of the joy experienced in that holy atmosphere.

“This joy I have, the world didn’t give it to me…the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

The wisdom in these words is that while the world, hegemonic culture, and oppressive systems steal, kill, and destroy, the source of our joy is identified as the one who calls chaos to order, turns mourning into dancing, and shall make all things new. This season of pandemic—including its social, economic, and political fallout—finds climax in the over 700,000 lives lost in the United States and over five million deaths worldwide. In this season, we need joy.  We need a joy which finds its origin and fullness in God. This joy does not exist because we ignore the hardships of this life; such a joy might be called trite and fleeting.  This joy, the type of which I write, exists in spite of the trials, tribulations, and oppression we experience.  This joy is supernatural. This joy is holy. This joy is protest. This joy is resistance.  A joy of such substance is not usually made manifest as a giddiness, but as sacrament, a means of grace which gives strength to persevere.  As we strive to be the church, let us go in joy.

As we struggle to become an Antiracist church, we go in joy.

As we struggle against the systems which oppress self and others, let us go in joy.

As we struggle to be faithful in our discernment and spiritual disciplines, let us do so sustained by joy that the world cannot give nor can it take away.

Let us pray:

We live in a moment scarce on joy and overflowing with fear, anxiety, grief, and dread
To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls
Make us to know joy which sustains in times of incredible hardship
Strengthen us, O God, that we might see and know the joy found in you. Amen

Written by Rev. Dr. Anthony L. D. Scott, associate conference minister, Rocky Mountain Conference, UCC

This prayer is part of a series of daily reflections for Advent 2021.

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Categories: Advent 2021

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