The third Sunday of Advent approaches.
Some of us come to the pink candle with lighthearted laughter, sped on our journey by the jocund Spirit of Christmas itself. But some of us have walked a weightier road this season, and we are not sure we have strength to bear this word –
Because, what if the landscape looks nothing like you thought it would? What if your best beloved is no longer there with you? What if you reach out for your journeymate in the night, only to remember the bed is half-empty and your heart is wholly crushed?
Oh, where can joy possibly be then?
And yet it comes, not as a reveller in an ugly Christmas sweater, popping champagne at the party. It comes into the lonely midnight kitchen, pulls up a stool, and drains the dregs of sorrow with you.
Joy is a relational reality.
Joy says, “It’s good to be me here with you.” It’s not based on the road you’re walking, but who you’re walking with.
Often it comes in the silent presence of a loved one, or that friend who shows up at just the right time with a tub of candy cane ice cream.
When life is hard, joy doesn’t ask you put on a happy face. Joy will cry all its mascara off with you. Joy comes when you can live life without masks and still find safety in vulnerability.
Joy comes somehow through grief that is shared.
And joy breaks into broken worlds with this simple phrase, “The Lord is come.” He is here, and here is proof that you are loved, and no matter what you face, you face it together.
Even Christmas. Even this first Christmas without the one who lit up your world.
At the heart of things, joy is relational. Joy means living loved, through grief and brokenness and doubt. Joy means living loved, even without understanding it all. Joy means living loved, so that when laughter sneaks in at unexpected moments, you can welcome it too.
Joy is for you – not as a display of fireworks or a Santa Claus parade, but as a single candle that promises to stay no matter how dark it gets.